Devan Piniewski


JE 2007

St. Michael’s College, Winooski, VT.

Devan Piniewski“Traveling to China with the Journey East Program was my first extended trip out of the country and left me with a severe travel bug.  From there, I went to Mongolia through SIT for a month of travel and service and then to Ladakh, in northern India, for a semester of school.

All of this led up to one of the most consequential decisions I’ve made in my life: deferring from college for a year, traveling and doing community service.  For some, a month-long trip shows them that they need to go straight to school; they fear that they would never go.  For a few students, traveling tells them to take a year off and experience the world while they can – no student loans, no jobs, and no real responsibilities.

On my year off, I went to Ecuador to teach English to elementary school children, and then to India to travel and volunteer at a boarding school for high school students who needed help passing grade ten examinations.  While in Ecuador, I learned most of my Spanish and decided to minor in it.  In India, I decided that I wanted to focus on large animals after veterinary school.

My travel experiences have given me something some students are not lucky enough to have going into college; direction and purpose.  Because of China and then Mongolia, India and Ecuador, I know exactly who I am as a person and what my goals are.  Most of my friends, as rising juniors, are still not at this point.  

I can confidently say that because of the experiences I had in the Journey East Program and the experiences I had later on – inspired by Journey East – I know who I am and where I want to go.”