Mexico Last Days: March 18-19 2016

Waking up in the cloud forest was amazing experience. The night of our campout, I walked about half an hour alone into the forest before lying down to sleep. When the sun rose, I was delighted to see the colors return to the bromeliads and orchids in the canopy above. I gathered my belongings and walked over the valleys and ridges to our campsite, where we all waited for Teacher Alan to join us. The five of us did our yoga and meditation for the last time, and took a couple minutes to reflect on how this practice had worked for us over the two weeks. We then walked back to the house, did our chores, and ate a final delicious breakfast. The sun flower seedlings are looking awesome, and the beets are coming along great as well! We also took time to create a video encouraging other Quaker schools to switch to green energy, and Teacher Alan and I returned to the forest to water the Chicalaba seedlings we had planted a few days before. After lunch and rest, we drank a couple last-minute glasses of water and loaded our belongings into the truck. We drove to the top of campus, where we met our apprentice friends, Angel and his family, and Eduardo and Mauricio. We all rode together to the original cloud forest, and even got to meet the legendary Ricardo, founder of Las Cañadas! Together, we did a final moral imagination exercise in a circle of stumps where we imagined how our descendants would view the climate warriors of today. We practiced holding hands and acknowledging the life and power of other people. After this emotional moment, it was time for the sweat lodge!

The sweat lodge was one of the craziest experiences of my life. First we prepared verbally for the ritual, and then faced the four cardinal directions to the sound of Ricardo’s drum. The sweat lodge has a door in facing in each direction that corresponds both to natural elements and aspects of a person’s life and character. We then lined up and received small pieces of wood to pour anything we hoped to rid our lives of into. We each received a smudging from Ricardo before throwing our stick into the fire and entering the lodge. At first the sweat lodge was very dark and cool. Banana leaves carpeted the floor and flowers hung from the ceiling. We filed in a sat in a circle against the small igloo-like walls. Ricardo explained what would happen, and then the rocks were brought in, each one glowing red hot like it was from the core of the earth. The rocks were so beautiful! We greeted each rock, closed the door, and then began singing, imagining, and laughing as we cycled through first the Door of Earth and then the Door of Air. After the Door of Air, it was time to bring more rocks in. This time they were small boulders! It was at this point that I started to get really hot. Ricardo poured water on the rocks to make steam infused with the most delicious herbs I have ever smelled. We were all very, very sweaty at this point. At the Door of Water, the memories start to get a bit fuzzy for me. I remember my heart racing, my whole body being covered in sweat, and a sudden realization that I definitely had lungs and had better use them. We were splashed with water, given a chance to share our prayers and feelings, and hammered with hotter and hotter air in a beautiful mix of joy and pain. Then it was time for the Door of Fire. The Door of Fire is the hottest door of the sweat lodge. At this point I was lying flat on my back, very hot and completing unable to form most coherent thoughts. I have never felt so weak and strong at the same time. We were invited to think of a goal for our lives, and share anything we wanted to throw into the fire and rid from our lives. Reflecting on my determination to help the Earth and need to abandon my feelings of inadequacy felt like the culmination of everything I had learned in Mexico. The top door of the lodge was lifted, and our steam and feelings went flying up into much, much cooler air.

After the sweat lodge, I remember sitting in the river to cool off, lying on the grass and watching the sky spin above me, and realizing that I had momentarily lost my ability to speak Spanish. I felt very tired, very much part of a community, and strangely, very clean. I eventually walked into the cloud forest to change my clothes and had an encounter with some very large ants. I hope I did not disturb them too much. We rode the bus back up to the top of campus, and sadly said goodbye to Angel and our apprentice friends. We then drove to Orizaba, ate dinner together, and had a chance to walk around a different Mexican city. Over dinner, we gave each other compliments and appreciations for our roles during the trip. We stopped by Teacher Alan’s hotel room to receive new Angel Cards with values we hoped to embody on our post-Mexico journeys. I got Obedience, which I can only interpret as obedience to my commitment to enjoy every moment of my life as an environmentalist. After a wait at the bus station, we said goodbye to Teacher Alan and boarded our 1am bus for Ciudad de Mexico. Teacher Paula and I said goodbye to the others at JFK Airport, and then had an adventure involving several train rides, subways, broken phones, a lot of culture shock, and a period of looking for my parents at random train platforms in New Jersey. We finally found them and made it home safely, which was quite a relief!

After a week back in the USA, I’ve been trying to reflect on my experience at Las Cañadas. While I think it will take me years to process it fully, there are a few things I am sure of right now. One is that there are so many options for interacting with the Earth and others, and that the most rewarding involve being fully alive, taking risks, and being unafraid to really love something. Another is that helping the environment and living sustainably are incredibly fun and rewarding. I know that I’ve gained some self confidence and validation about what I want to do with my life, and that I will remember the amazing Mexicans I met for years to come. I think most importantly, I learned that even though the world and environment are incredibly messed up right now, there are so many options for fixing it and so many people across the world who genuinely care. I know I’m not alone.

With profound gratitude to Teacher Alan, Teacher Paula, Angel, Alba, Gloria, Ester, Eduardo, Mauricio, Daniel, Juan, Daniel, Dany, Yolanda, Tyde, Ricardo, Mishel, Hector, Pati, Julia, Concha, Carlos, Nuco, Juan José, and wonderful, wonderful Eugenio,

-Leif

Note: We are still having trouble posting the pictures! Hopefully we will get some posted in the next week. Thank you for your patience!

 

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” -Stephen Hawking

I did not want to come to Israel initially.  

Israel is often discussed in the context of the occupation, Gaza wars, and violence of the IDF.  Westtown is pro-Palestine, as most Quakers choose the side of the underdog.  During the two weeks I spent studying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict earlier this winter, I read many articles scrutinizing Israel and uplifting the Palestinian voice.  When the Jewish Student Union brought a speaker from the Anti-Defamation League to speak on anti-Semitism, the Jewish students asked her to speak about the anti-Israel movement prevalent on college campuses, because we felt to ignore it would not address the elephant in the room.  I did not want to come to Israel because I felt extremely conflicted.  I would read one article saying the IDF is a moral military and is always on the defensive side, and then watch a video of an Israeli soldier denying an elderly woman access into Israel to get the medicine she cannot get in the West Bank.

To me, being Jewish means being a good person even in the most difficult situations.  Every Shabbat we read from our prayer book, “When you come across a sheaf in the field, do not turn back to get it.  It shall go to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow–in order that God may bless you in all your undertakings [Deut. 24.19] Happy are those who consider the poor [Psalm 41.2] May we together with all our people respond to the needs of others, from the fruits of our harvest this week, we share with others.  And so we gain blessings, our lives have meaning, our lives have love.”  Being Jewish means tzedaka, always giving back and helping those who cannot help themselves.  The most charitable people I know are Jewish:  my grandparents; aunts; cousins – every one of them does what they can for the betterment of others.  Wherever I find myself in the world, be that Paris, Cuba, or India, I have found a community amongst Jews.

Among all Jews is an understanding of suffering, persecution, and oppression.  Our holidays celebrate victories – with Chanukah, the victory over the Greeks, with Purim, the fall of the evil Haman, and, most importantly, Passover and the exodus from slavery in Egypt.   But our suffering is not ancient, as every Jew feels the tragedies of the Holocaust when the world turned a blind eye while Hitler ordered the systematic deaths of six million Jews in Europe.  I do not know of any other group of people that has faced as much hatred for as long as it has existed.

If this is Judaism, then this should be the Jewish state.

I didn’t want to come to Israel, yet here I am.  I wanted to live as a Jew but I wanted to be separate from the State of Israel.  The separation was more comfortable than accepting the reality.  After 18 days of touring the country and meeting many people working for the advancement of Israeli life, I see that the reality is far from the dream of Eretz Yisrael.  I have a choice – I can go back to America and forget the stories of the people here.  I can be a good American Jew, read JPost, support Israel without question, do a Birthright trip, and turn a blind eye to the injustice.  But if you know me, you know I cannot do that.

I believe the future of Jews is intertwined with the future of the Jewish State.  My future will reflect Israel.  Jews believe that life is full of tests from God.  I believe that our relationship with Palestinians is our current test.

After living here for 3 weeks, I am less confused but more conflicted.  I feel like I can argue both sides of the conflict.  On the one hand, Israel needs to be safe.  There cannot be stabbings and bombs going off on a regular basis.  It not only kills innocent people, it also perpetuates a culture of fear.  When Israelis hear that Palestinian children read books in school calling Jews rats, it evokes memories of the Holocaust, when German children were taught Jews were like rats and Hitler used pesticides to exterminate millions in gas chambers.  When I asked an Israeli what he thought of the IDF, he looked confused. “What do you mean ‘what do I think’? There is nothing to think about, it is a must. There is nothing to question, it must exist if we are to exist. The IDF does what it needs to do to protect the citizens of Israel against people who detest us.”  

But if a Palestinian mother loses her son when he is shot by an IDF soldier, she will hate the soldier who shot him and the country the soldier shot him for.  In effect, she will hate Israel- the Jewish state.  So on the other hand, the majority of Palestinians do not hate Jews; they just want to exist in peace and have freedom, but can not because of extremist groups that perpetuate fear.  Animosity grows every day under the occupation.  

I have come to see corruption in both governments and believe they lack the leadership and courage to bring peace.  Some say there has been no effort to make peace.  Some say treaties and negotiations between Israel and the PLO have been created but are not being honored. Unlike many who feel truth lies between extremes, I believe it lies in the eye of the beholder.  Everyone seems to have their eyes on Israel and the more eyes that are on Israel, the more truths there are.  

As outsiders, we choose to see the side that enforces what we already believe, which is why it is so hard to see the truth in the other side.  It has become clear to me, however,  that there is always another explanation as to why things are the way they are.  Yet, suffering has no boundaries, politics, or religion.  

I can spend hours fighting both sides in my mind, reading articles, watching videos, and praying for peace.  I do not choose to retreat in the face of suffering but I do not know what I am supposed to do to; I have a feeling it will become clear when the time is right.  As a Jew, it is my responsibility to manifest the Jewish state, a state in which Judaism exists in its true form:  love of all humanity.  Religion, like everything, can be a force of evil.  Yet I have seen spiritual leaders use religion as the greatest force of good.  As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  Israel is not the only place with injustice.  My Dad once said “history does not repeat itself, it rhymes,” and I am slowly understanding what he means.

I do not walk away from this trip with bold assertions about what needs to happen for there to be peace, nor with a firm grasp of everything that already is happening, for that would be naive.  I will not speak on behalf of all Jews everywhere nor will I speak on behalf of Israel to people who want to start arguments or people who believe they understand everything.  I will, however, continue to learn and to listen because I choose to be invested in the wellbeing of the state of my people.

I know when I go home distance will make it easy for me to forget the sense of community I feel here.  All I  will have are pictures and memories of the breathtaking nature and the kindhearted people.  I did not want to come to Israel, but things have a funny way of working out.  Now, I do not want to leave.

 

 

 

 

P.S. I wrote this post during my last few days in Israel but did not have time to edit it. I am home now.

 

March 23, 2016

It’s hard to believe, but my time in Hawaii has come to an end. Tomorrow, I will board a plane and leave this place, and it’s possible that I will never return. If that sounds overdramatic then I would say you’ve never visited these beautiful islands. You’ve never felt the tug of your soul as you looked at a calendar and realized you had to leave a place that is like no other. IMG_0785.JPG While I was here, I had the unique privilege of being a tourist, but experiencing these islands how the locals do. I arrived with an itinerary that I was eager to fulfill, but when I reviewed it with my host, I was politely told that we wouldn’t be doing much of what was on my list. Needless to say, I was very disappointed, but I would soon learn that I was also naive. He explained to me that there are two Hawaii’s. There is the Hawaii that is sold by travel agencies and souvenir shops, this version is manufactured to be beautiful and memorable, but lacks grit and authenticity, and then there’s the real Hawaii. The real Hawaii could never be described with pen and paper – it’s a sensation.IMG_0188 copy.jpg It’s a heartbeat that resonates through the land and the existence of the people that call it home. It’s a secret to the passerby and hides under the blanket of lush greens and easily attained exhilarations, revealing her self only to those who are daring enough to walk at her pace. This island is alive. She exploded from the ocean floor over 40 millions years ago.  With violent force, she came into existence and gave home to ancient civilizations. She offers the best mother nature has to offer: forests full of wild fruit, clear emerald blue waters, towering ridgelines and a race of people that have founded a culture based on a concept of love and hospitality.  Hawaii is not a vacation, it’s a life changing experience. It’s a place of fairy tales and mind-numbing beauty.IMG_0775.JPG If you ever get the chance to come to one of these amazing islands, don’t get caught up in the tourist traps, don’t go to trip advisor and look for things to do. Buy yourself a map of the island, rent a jeep and explore the real Hawaii. The land the locals are lucky enough to call home.

Aloha, Maddie IMG_0787.JPG

Final Days

We have now been home for a couple days and other than getting used to the time zone, I have found myself missing many aspects of the life-changing trip. I miss my wonderful students, even if some of them did constantly talk over me in class. I miss our reading groups where I could see so many of the students’ determination to learn. I also miss spending hours working in the library in which I categorized and labeled hundreds of books. Even though there are so many aspects of this trip that I miss, there are definitely some parts of the trip that I won’t miss such as the random power outages, sometimes for the whole night. I also won’t miss the constant staring for being an “obroni”, or foreigner, everywhere I go.

There are many great lessons I learned while on this trip, but one of the most useful lesson/values I learned would probably be the importance of being flexible and going with the flow. I was very determined before the trip that I was going to teach my class the basics of ballet at my warm-ups at the beginning of the trip, but I had to scratch that idea after the first day because I realized that it wasn’t what the students enjoyed. They need to move around more to focus. So I decided, with the help of some friends on the trip, to teach my class different warm-ups that we do with Westtown’s dance program. We started off our second week of the trip with a lot of rain. This meant that we had to relocate my class to a smaller space. As a result of this, many of my warm-ups had to be scraped due to lack of space, so I had to think quickly to figure out what we could do and what music would go well with the warm-ups to keep the students interested. One of the last days of the trip, we went to pick up pieces from the woodcarvers in a nearby town. When we were a couple minutes away, our trusty red van that we had been riding the who trip broke down halfway up a hill. Our van driver slowly backed down the hill to the side of the road and parked there. We quickly got together and started walking the rest of the way to the woodcarvers because we still needed to get our wood. When we walked back to the van, a man approached us and started to explain how he and a few other men were growing different food plants including coconuts to help feed those who needed food. He then offered us coconuts from his trees, which we accepted after making sure that they were safe to eat and not infused with unpurified water (they do that with watermelon in the area). We then were picked up by taxis that T. Kwesi sent for us. This kind of event would normally make me stressed and uncomfortable because I am not the type of person who is able to go with the flow very easily, I usually like everything planned out and to go with the plan. However, this trip helped me understand that there are many things, such as red vans, that don’t go as planned and that you need to often think on the spot.

We finished up our trip in Accra where we went shopping in an craft market as well as going to W.E.B. Dubois’ house. We then relaxed at our hotel for the rest of the evening preparing ourselves for a very long flight home. Thankfully, there were no screaming kids on the flight home unlike our flight to Ghana.

This trip has allowed me to grow as a person and create lasting memories that I will be able to share with so many people in the future. I hope to return to Ghana at some point in the near future (study abroad in college maybe?) to continue the work that I started in the two brief weeks.

So you came to Israel alone?

“Yep,” I smile and look down at my fidgeting hands. “I came here because my parents have friends here, but when I arrived, I didn’t know anyone in the whole country.”

I am leaving tomorrow, and looking back on it, I did not think I was going to make it this long.  When I first arrived, I called my parents and begged to come home.  I was honestly terrified.  When I walked down the streets, I thought “am I going to get stabbed?” and as I feel asleep and heard airplanes passing by, I thought “Are they going to drop a bomb?” Hebrew letters looked cold, hard, and unforgiving and the language left me isolated.  Not having anyone I could talk to was really hard, because as my friends know, I need to talk.

This is easily forgotten, though, because after some time these feelings fade and are replaced by the excitement of the adventure.  So when I think about my trip to Israel, I will think about all the amazing moments and forget how scared I initially felt.

This post is for the wanderlusting Westonian planning their own Senior Project.  Get as far away from your safety net as you can, fall head first into the world, and allow it to catch you.  Trust me–it’s so worth it.  But here are some things I used to stay balanced in the free fall.

Music and a book: when I was alone, music was with me. When I needed to escape, I had the land of my book.

Whatsapp: although it is important to disconnect, sometimes it really helped reaching out to a friend or family member who cheered me up and gave me the confidence boost to go out and make new friends.

Breathing: falling asleep, driving to a new place, meeting someone new, taking a deep breath calmed me down.

Openness: this may seem obvious, but there are different social norms and way of doing things here. I had to get really relaxed about plans and trust everything was just going to work out-which it has.

JournalI just write down everything I do and every thought I have.  It helps me clear my head so each day I have a fresh set of eyes and an empty mind.

Stretch: not only does it release muscle tightness, it releases mind tightness.  I felt much better after five minutes of stretching as if anxiety was held in my back or quads.

Confidence: this is the hardest, but I just keep telling myself that no one cares and if I embarrass myself I will never see them again.  I have yet to feel embarrassed.  Saying what I think, trying something new, meeting a stranger, this is what has made the trip interesting even though it was the hardest to do.

Westtown: finally, I have kept Westtown with me.  When I explain Quakerism and my school to everyone I meet, I am reminded about why I am here in the first place.  Westtown trained me for four years for the world–giving me the ability to find peace in silence, community amongst strangers, and strength in myself.

 

Day 14, March 17, 2016

The day began with some yoga, led by the yogi-in-training, Sam. After yoga, we did our daily chores and ate an amazing breakfast. I think this might have been the best all week! From that moment, I could already tell we were going to have a fantastic day. As soon as we were all cleaned up, we got in the car and headed to the resort where we would be zip lining. Once we arrived, we were shocked by the amazing view of the Mexican Grand Canyon. From where we were, 800 feet above, we could see the river flowing and the birds soaring majestically over the valley. Then we went with our guide up a tower, about 40 feet, to get clipped onto the line. Personally, this was a great challenge, as being afraid of heights,  I was not sure I could trust the equipment. Eventually though, I realized that we must run towards our fears; conquer the beast! And so we did; capturing an amazing view and serene voyage. After the zipline, we hung out in the restaurant area of the resort and played some cards. Eventually we were ready to head back, and enjoyed a nice car ride back to Las Cañadas. When we got back, we were able to eat a nice lunch, nap, and get ready to set off on our campout. We took a nice little hike to the campsite, where we discovered that Angel had built us an impressive canopy in case it rained. Once it got dark, we built a fire and were able to eat some burritos and roasted potatoes. Shortly thereafter, we took a nap and then T. Alan stopped by to share a moving story with the group. We then gazed at the stars, admired the bright-lit moon, and talked for a bit. Unfortunately, it was hard to sleep well, since the bugs, birds, coyotes, cows, and the hard ground made the night slightly uncomfortable. Still, it was a night to remember!

-Mekhi

 

 

A Few Days Later…

A couple of days have passed since I finished my Senior Project at Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research and things are finally starting to get back to normal. “Normal” is kind of a strange word though because it wasn’t long ago that taking care of sick and injured birds for eight hours a day was normal for me. Well, regardless of what is and isn’t normal, my Senior Project is done and Spring Break is slowly coming to a close. It’s nearly time for me to return to Westtown and share my experience with both my peers and teachers, but the problem is I am not entirely sure how to do that.

I could share my experience in the sugarcoated version, which would be that each day I had a pleasant 50 minute drive down I-95 in the morning and taking care of the birds was a piece of cake. That wouldn’t be the truth though. The truth is that I had a horrible 50 minute drive each morning with cars going 25 mph over the speed limit zipping by me and nearly crashing into me. The truth is that in order to prevent the birds food I had to cut open mice with pairs of scissors and inject them with meds. The truth is that every couple of days a bird would poop on me and it would stain my sweatshirt and make me smell for the rest of the day. I think when I tell my friends at school (at least the ones who aren’t reading this right now) I’ll tell my story somewhere between the two versions.

No matter how I let everyone know about Tri-State, I will never be able to put into words how grateful I am for the experience to volunteer for the past two weeks. Working with the birds has confirmed my suspicion that I would like to work with animals for a career, but I am not sure in exactly what form yet. I guess that’s what college is for! Anyways, I think I will finish my blog with the same picture I used to start it. Here is a photo of Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research located in Newark, Delaware. Hopefully this won’t be the last time I volunteer and help the birds recover! To all of my readers, thank you so much for sticking with me for the past couple of weeks and being a part of my experience. Once again, thank you and goodbye!

P.S. If you have the chance or live close to Newark, please check out Tri-State because the work they do is incredible and all donations are appreciated!

 

Creative Writing Away From Home

So today I showed a family member some of what I’ve accomplished over the last few weeks. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve always been a little apprehensive about showing people – even family members or close friends – my work, and this time was no different. I sat on the couch while she read it (a poem),  fiddling anxiously with a loose thread trailing from one of the cushions. I studied her face, trying to interpret her expressions. Would she like it? Was it even any good? Was I a good writer?

I guess these are some of the questions that lurk at the back of the mind of every writer.  For me, at least, my writing is always inextricably linked to me as a person – criticism can sometimes feel like a personal dig. It’s jarring to think that a piece of work that is important to you, that you’ve worked tirelessly on night after night, week after week, could be harshly criticized or even completely dismissed by someone.

In this case, my family member actually did end up liking the poem I’d showed her. She had a few criticisms, or “personal preferences,” as she called them – pointing out a line she thought had an excessive amount of adjectives, for one, or suggesting I clarify an obscure reference – but ultimately her reaction was positive.

These last few weeks have been alternately frustrating and illuminating. It was hard to jump back into writing at first – writing for myself, that is, not for any class or scholarship contest or club commitment – and I suffered from a bad bout of writer’s block for the first few days back home. But this time has also allowed me to articulate my thoughts and feelings regarding writing in a much more concrete way. I can now speak to the fact that I love that poetry, as a medium, relies just as much on the sound of its words and phrases and how they link together as it does its substance. I love that writing short scenes – vignettes- allows you to capture a range of emotions in what is essentially a quick snapshot of your life. Writing is, and will be, always an integral part of who I am, and I’m happy I got the chance to do something that I’m truly passionate about during my senior project.

Life in the Desert… the Future of Israel?

I spent this week in the Negev Desert at Sder Boker.  This is where Ben Gurion (the founder and first Prime Minister of Israel) spent the last few decades of his life.  He believed the future in Israel was in the desert.  I stayed at the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, a graduate school of Ben-Gurion University.  I learned about the amazing agriculture technology, desalinization processes, and necessary water technology to live in a dry climate. During my trip, I traveled to Masada and the Dead Sea and spent some time with the Westtown group!  They are currently on their flight back to the US, but they had a very powerful trip.  I really enjoyed my time in the desert, it was breathtakingly beautiful.

I hope you enjoy these pictures and they give you a sense of the vastness of the Negev!

 

Much love,

Hannah

The Musical Connection

I’m continuously astounded by how much music there is in this city. It’s impossible to walk out into the streets without hearing something. There’s bands playing on rooftop restaurants, restaurant patios, pop up venues in parking lots, and in the streets. It’s really incredible to be surrounded by so much live music. This trip has been really eye opening to me because it has solidified the idea that music is the only thing that can connect people so deeply and viscerally. People have come from all over the world to Austin for a week of music and I find that really incredible. Nobody cares what the artists look like or where they’re from, it’s all about the art they’re creating. If the music is good, everyone is happy and if it’s not so good, people just move onto the next venue.

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Something that really highlighted this for me happened last night. I went to a showcase to see a girl called CLOVES perform and after she finished her set I started talking to her. She lives in England and most of the people who write for WTGR also live in England. I mentioned to her that I write for WTGR and we’ve covered her a few times she immediately brightened and said, “Oh yeah I know Matthew, he’s wonderful!” Matthew is another writer for the blog and he lives in Cambridge and I thought it was so cool that the three of us were all connected by music, despite never meeting in person before.

She was one of the many incredible acts I was able to see yesterday. I went to a daytime IMG_9574.JPG
party where I saw Declan McKenna, a 17 year old guy from England, and he was so impressive. It was just him, his guitar, a keyboard, and a vocal looper on the stage and he was able to create a fully fleshed out sound all by himself. I also saw KLOE from Scotland and her set was very nice too. In the nighttime I saw Roo Panes in the same church I saw Clara-Nova and he was absolutely incredible. It was a very intimate show with just him, his guitar, and an audience of maybe 20 people. Later I saw KYTES, a four-piece band from Munich that makes upbeat indie pop, and The Young Wild, a Californian band that draws influence from their sunny state. I’m sad that there’s only two days left of SXSW, but I’m so glad that I’ve had this experience.

-Amanda