Mara Hoplamazian, TTS22

Where are you now?

12191421_1111524285573087_6553330852149540780_n“Right now, I’m in Jaipur, India on a gap year program called Thinking Beyond Borders.  I’ve been teaching in a 4th grade class every morning, and in the afternoons having seminars with the 16 other students and three Program Leaders traveling with me.  We’re reading Paulo Freire and Bell Hooks and each day in seminar we explore a new issue related to education and development, in both an Indian and a U.S. context.  I’m living with a host family in a guesthouse that provides dorms for girls who have left their villages to study pre-med or engineering in Jaipur.  A couple friends and I are creating a short documentary called “Girlhood” about the experiences of some of these girls, and it has been such an awesome way to connect with them and get to know more about their lives.  I’ll be a Freshman at Yale University next fall, and over the summer I’m planning to work as a camp counselor in North Carolina.” 

What else have you been up to since TTS?

“Since TTS, I co-founded an Amnesty International club at my high school and started a creative writing collective with some other students who are traveling with me currently.  I climbed Mt. Rainier last May, and road tripped across the South over the summer. The past 4 months, I’ve worked with a reforestation project in Ecuador, hiked Machu Picchu, and farmed rice with an agrarian family in Thailand.  In Ecuador, I lived with an indigenous Tsa’chila family and learned a little bit of Tsa’fiki.  In Thailand, I worked on a project about the affects of rural flight in northern Thailand.  In 4 days, I’m traveling to South Africa, to work with a public health NGO called PlettAid that I visited on my TTS semester!” 

How did your TTS semester impact what you’re doing today?

“TTS taught me to embrace and foster a critical consciousness of the world around me.  I learned how to travel with limited access to internet and showers.  I learned how to hand wash and hang-dry laundry, and how to sleep in a tent for 4 months.  I gained a huge understanding and appreciation for the importance of empathy, and learned how to be both a leader and a flexible part of a team.  Most importantly, TTS reminded me that I have a deep love of learning, and encouraged me to pursue education in non-conventional ways.  It would not be an overstatement to say that I use skills I learned on TTS every day.  My semester truly shaped the way that I interact with people around me and the way I interact with the world, and I am so grateful for that.” 


Anna Lichtiger, TTS21

Where are you now?

“I am currently in Israel! I just finished my first two weeks of immersion in Israeli culture and conflict with an academic birthright trip. In a few weeks I’ll begin my study of biology, environmental studies and peace with other students, including Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, Americans. In the interim, I will be a Kibbutz Volunteer.” 


Anna in Tel Aviv, Israel

What else have you been up to since TTS?

“I’m a junior at Guilford College in North Carolina, studying biology and environmental studies. I’m particularly interested in health, conservation and environmental justice. Last summer, I had an REU research internship where I worked to assess the reliance of Bostonians on local beaches. We worked on determining reliance of environmental justice versus non environmental justice communities on the beaches. Last semester, I helped spearhead a panel on environmental justice with scholars’ input and people’s stories. I also helped create a documentary about coal ash and fracking in predominantly black communities in North Carolina.

How did your TTS semester impact what you’re doing today?

“The Traveling School nurtured my curiosity about the world, gave me tools to adventure and go past my comfort zone and dream bigger and in more unconventional ways. More concretely, TTS’ valuation of exercise has been very important for me. I run, play frisbee, tennis and bike all the time. I ran a half marathon last summer and I truly don’t think I would have been in that position to get excited, sign up and train hard without my experience at The Traveling School.”


Abigail Wilson, TTS20 & TTS21

Where are you now?


Abigail in Lima, Peru

“I am a student at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, Class of 2018. My major is International Affairs with concentrations in Global Public Health and International Development and I also have an Arabic minor.”

What have you been up to since TTS?

“Since my semesters with TTS (20 &21) I have applied my passion for perspective based global education, international development, global public health, and language into a degree. Since TTS I’ve racked up a few more PADI dive certifications, become certified to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL) at home and abroad, lived and traveled in South America the TTS way but with college friends, and worked with many non profits in the DC area in women’s health advocacy, literacy rates, and indigenous language disparity. I am published by the Student Center for African Research and Resolution where my work is distributed to think tanks, NGO’s, and policy makers in DC and internationally for research on topics like separatist movements in Sub Saharan Africa, language inequality in South Africa’s public education system, and refugee access to healthcare. I have molded questions about my world founded during my time with TTS and turned them into a pathway of study and career that allows me to endlessly navigate and search for perspective on the world.”

How did your TTS semester impact what you’re doing today?

“TTS taught me to question the world around me. If something doesn’t seem right never to assume that it must be out of our realm of understanding. There is nothing lost from finding out more. Peace is not merely the absence of conflict but the presence of justice. Asking questions does not signify weakness but instead the bravery to call into question what others have deemed natural injustice.”


Phoebe Coburn, TTS14

Where are you now?Phoebe

“I graduated this past June from the University of Denver with degrees in International Studies and Geography. This summer I’m working for Wilderness Adventures as a backpacking and climbing leader for teenagers in Wyoming. I’m not exactly sure where life will lead me after that, but I hope to stay in the Rocky Mountains or move back to Nepal. I’m considering careers in outdoor education, conservation, journalism or GIS.”

What have you been up to since TTS?

“Since TTS, I’ve been living mostly in Colorado going to school. I’ve been back to Nepal a few times, I spent one semester in Tanzania studying Wildlife Conservation, and I spent one semester with an Environmental Science program in the Czech Republic and Baja, Mexico.”

How did your TTS semester impact what you’re doing today?

“Not only did TTS give me the travel bug, but it gave me the insatiable desire learn and critically analyze the world. It also helped me develop confident sense of self, which I’m grateful to have as I’m graduating from college . There is a lot of pressure on college seniors to pursue a career and to be “successful.” TTS showed me that life is a mystery to live, not a problem to solve. Finding a path that is enriching and fulfilling is the most important thing in life, and I am the only one who defines my “success”. I’m so thankful TTS taught me this at a young age.”


Bobbi Anderson, TTS19

Where are you now?


“I just finished my first year at Quest University Canada in Squamish, British Columbia. This summer I am interning at The Traveling School office, creating curriculum and resources for students and alumnae.”

What have you been up to since TTS?

“I returned home from my TTS semester three years ago. Since then I have spent a semester studying Hindi in India, a two years at school in Bozeman, Montana and a summer working for a surf camp and starting a non-profit that provides English programs for students in rural Nicaragua. I am currently attending university and studying human trafficking law, theories of oppression, non-profit business, and the reconstruction of language curriculum in the states. I love spending time in the mountains and creating community wherever I am in the world. Since TTS I have seen almost every girl on my semester and all four of my teachers in Utah, Colorado, Thailand, and Montana! It is safe to say that TTS shifted my entire being and place in this world for all of the right reasons. I am now on Earth to learn, to create community, and to use my privilege and knowledge of the world around me and reconstruct what I wish to see done differently.”

How did your TTS semester impact what you’re doing today?

“I have zero hesitation saying TTS has impacted everything I have done in the past three years. My desire to make a difference in the communities I travel to as well as the communities I live in is crucial. My desire to learn in an experiential, non-traditional way is entirely related to my experience with TTS. TTS taught me to value my Education, to create authentic connections with a variety of people, to be a gate-opener with the privilege I possess, and to take advantage of travel opportunity. I give TTS full credit for the person I am today, and I have no idea where I would be without my TTS experience.”


Shannon Tebbetts, TTS15 & TTS16

Shannon Tebbetts recently shared an update about her final year at college, her plans for spending the next two years in Senegal with the Peace Corps and how The Traveling School has shaped her life.

Where are you now?Shannon Tebbs

“I’m currently a senior at Willamette University, and I’m majoring in both International Studies and Spanish. At school, I am the Leadership Instructor at our Outdoor Program. During the summers, I work as a guide for a teen volunteer and travel company called Adventures Cross Country. I was recently accepted to the Peace Corps, and will be moving to Senegal this coming September! I’ll be learning French and Wolof, and working as a rural agriculture volunteer for the next two years.”

What else have you been up to since TTS?

“TTS really deepened my love for the outdoors, and throughout college outdoor recreation has been a major outlet for me. I climb a lot, I love it. I also backpack and hike pretty frequently. Given the chance, I’ll do or try anything outdoorsy. During my junior year at Willamette, I studied abroad in Spain and had an incredible time.”

How did your TTS semester(s) impact what you’re doing today?

“The real question is – how didn’t TTS impact what I’m doing today? When I think about my job choices and the majors I have pursued, it’s clear to me that TTS sowed the seeds to who I am today. My majors in International Studies and Spanish undoubtedly came from my semester in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. The people that we met had amazing stories to tell, and so I fell in love with Spanish. The community service made me incredibly aware of my impact globally, and so I pursued International Studies to deepen my understanding of the world we live in. I found that the outdoor aspects of our semester, the rivers, the mountains and the glaciers, were rejuvenating – and so I fell in love with the outdoors. Most importantly, though, the teachers on my semesters with TTS impacted the person I was, that I am, and the person that I want to be. They challenged me to think critically, but to balance that with an open mind and a kind heart. To this day, the TTS teachers that I had on my semesters are some of the most influential women and educators to ever touch my life. I’m so grateful for the passion and purpose that they instilled in each and every one of their students.”


Amsara Holly, TTS14

Amsara Holly (TTS14) recently shared an update about the Holly Girlz, a music group she and her sisters created, and how The Traveling School shaped her vision for the group. 

Holly Girlz (Amsara, Ariana, Sa’Nefer and Taia)


Amsara (middle) with Alice and Morgan on top of Dune 45, Namibia.

Q. What is your vision for Holly Girlz? 

A. “Over a decade of changing the world… one girl at a time” We hope those words also ring true for us one day.  Our vision is for us to be a powerhouse brand and music group that inspires young women and girls all over the world. We want to one day tour the globe and as we’re performing (no matter the location) look into the audience and see that we’ve influenced people to aspire to be something greater.


Q. What do the Holly Girlz represent?

A. On our website, the first page reads, “We make loving your culture cool, Sticking together through Thick and Thin In-Style and Loving who you are Phenomenal.” At our core we represent family. We are bringing to the table the simple idea of togetherness and unity represented in the form of four sisters. In today’s society, the idea of a loving family and siblings are in a lot of ways lost whether it be through music or television.  We want to bring that back to the forefront.


TTS14, southern Africa 2009.

Q. How was The Traveling School part of your journey?

A. I can say that personally, The Traveling School inspired and instilled in me a sense of fearlessness and unwavering motivation to go after what I want and succeed. I was taught and reminded to not be afraid of my power as a young woman and use it. These are just a couple of characteristics that I adopted and now use when it comes to Holly Girlz. Though just a couple of examples, they haven’t skimmed the surface of what I learned in entirety; some lessons last a lifetime. As the oldest sister, I’d like to be an example and have my younger sisters look up to me – instead of just looking up to women on television. As part of Holly Girlz I’m not only a group member but I’m also a support system to push my younger sisters to their full potential. As a family who is from Washington DC and on our third year of living in Los Angeles to accomplish our dreams, everyday is filled with hard work and dedication. Just as I push them, they push me. My younger sisters inspire me everyday and as a collective it motivates us to work as a consistent group and team; just like when I was in The Traveling School. Although TTS is about to celebrate the 25th Semester, it still feels like TTS14 was just yesterday (for me at least). I was part of an adventurous and moving group of women who pushed boundaries and loved life. I, along with my sisters hope to teach, motivate and inspire young girls around the world to do the same.

For more information and to follow the Holly Girlz next moves: