Reflection By Max Gibson:
The equatorial sun is quickly burning off the early morning clouds. These last wispy vapors race above the channel cut by the Nile through the plains. In a few days, I fly alongside them into the bush, to spend another week searching for refugees on the move. I’ll interview them, make population estimates, and relay their stories on to other humanitarian responders. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing right now.
It’s very clear to me that I wouldn’t be undertaking this work without the experiences I have had with The Road Less Traveled. In many ways, my entire life now is a recreation of my time with RLT. There is struggle and discomfort. At times I feel homesick. Or I feel unsure of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. But then I share tea and stories with a tribal chief, or I buy vegetables directly from a local farmer, or I trek through a swamp to a quiet village. And the complications wash away. Instead I find human connection and a landscape affecting me deeply.
With RLT, I learned to infuse my days with moments of reflection and self-care, to cultivate relationships with clear communication and trust, and to listen to my instincts.
(Max in Norway, 2009)
RLT is with me as I to tend to my inner life as well. In my time as a participant and leader with RLT, I learned to infuse my days with moments of reflection and self-care, to cultivate relationships with clear communication and trust, and to listen to my instincts. These elements keep me safe and fulfilled in a land of war and famine just as much as they have throughout my life.
I know how difficult our world can be. And thanks to RLT, I know how valuable and easy it can be to sing songs with friends around a campfire, or play soccer with a group of children, or sit in silence as the sun sinks behind a growing storm on the horizon.
– Max Gibson, RLT Alum and Medical Field Staff Trainer
Any Road Less Traveled participant or leader will tell you that the impact of an RLT trip reaches far beyond the summer. This phenomenon is especially true for Max Gibson, former RLT participant and leader, and current RLT Medical Field Staff Trainer. As a student, Max traveled on three different Road Less Traveled programs (Trails in Time ’98, Trails in Time ’99, Leadership Challenge ’05), and later led trips in Tanzania, Norway, the Pacific Northwest, and the Rocky Mountains. We are grateful that Max continues to take a few weeks out of his summer each year to train our field staff in emergency care and wilderness medicine protocols. After his time leading for RLT, Max went on to earn a Masters of Urban & Regional Planning and a Masters of Public Health focusing on Environmental and Occupational Health from the University of Colorado at Denver. These days, he is working to shape practices and influence policies in humanitarian and development settings in order to positively impact the lives of people and their communities. In his current role, Max works to design and implement big data assessments of food access, flood vulnerability, housing conditions, and conflict displacement. This humanitarian work has taken him throughout South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, and Gaza.