Imagine yourself hiking up a rainforest hillside at the end of rainy season, the frogs singing to each other all around you, mud everywhere, on the hunt for wildlife, and slowly climbing up to a lookout. You hear hints of voices behind the sounds of the forest, so you know you are close, and as you suddenly come around a bend you find the rain shelter, lunch, and a group of strangers about to become friends break out in applause and a standing ovation because you’ve finally made it. I didn’t know I needed that on holiday, but that was the beginning of my time on the inaugural Lauder Intercultural Venture to Madagascar.
Getting there was a challenge, with two winter storms bearing down on London, and a stark reminder that the root word of travel is actually work, having only evolved to our modern usage recently. My spirit of adventure had been lost a bit, in between work trips where all you see is airline lounges and corporate hotels, and family holidays focused on socializing instead of culture and adventure. Joining Lauder students on an LIV was the antidote I needed.
Personally, it also gave me some inspiration for my first passion project. As I finish up writing and illustrating my first children’s book about teaching kids about conservation, it was inspiring to see it in action, as well as learn more about cute creatures like lemurs so I could draw them better.
These trips are Lauder on steroids; short, intense immersions into challenges off of the beaten path. They are held during winter and spring break, and open to alumni to join. The topics vary; ours in Madagascar was on biodiversity and development and it was fascinating to not just read about the challenges but see them and speak to people on the ground trying to make a difference. It was also a great opportunity to really engage with current Lauder students, who welcome the alumni to the eternally renewing supply of Lauder love. You can also see how the program continues to change and evolve with the demands of businesses and to serve the needs of the students.
So if you are looking for adventure, you want a trip to challenge and engage you, or if just you miss the Lauder love, think about joining an LIV next year. It might be just what you need for a holiday, even if you don’t know it yet.
Written by: Margaret Gorman (Lauder/WG’04)