Welcome to our first interview in our new series! We hope to catch up with past students and see what they are up to! We like to say the magic happens once the students leave Woolman, we are continually amazed by the work that they are doing in the world, from farmers to trail blazers to social change makers! Alumni, you are the reason why Woolman exsists! If you are interested in learning more about student life click here! If you are a former student wanting to share about your life you can fill out an alumni questionnaire here! If you'd like to reconnect in other ways please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org! We'd LOVE to hear from you. Without further ado, Kelly Flanary, Woolman Semester School Student Fall 2013.
Name: Kelly Flanary
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Semester: Fall 2014
School/Job: Sterling College, Camp Cook,
Oregon College of Art and Craft
What are you doing now that you wouldn't have done without Woolman?
Well, I first came to Woolman the summer after my freshman year of highschool in Teen Leadership Camp. That summer completely changed my life. In the short two weeks I was here I learned more about myself than I ever had before. Camp and the semester program carry a lot of the same themes and are rooted in the same Quaker philosophy. I found myself being immersed in a culture I never had before. Things that I had once been self conscious about or thought to be socially unacceptable, were celebrated and a complete social norm. Everyone in my group including the counselors, became the greatest friends I had ever had. They taught me the limits of my body while backpacking and the immense love that can come from the hearts of the members in a community. I started on a whole new path in life. After I came home I became immensely depressed. The world was nothing like the one I had lived in before. It was different. I had a new perspective on people and society. I craved to go back to Woolman. As I came back through the summers Woolman taught me who I was and how to be the person I am today. The people and the land are constantly pushing me to transform myself into a better shiner self. In a lot of ways Woolman has raised me.
Memorable Woolman moment?
One of favorite moments was during my first summer here in TLC. We had just bike down on the American River Bike Trail to Soil Born Farms in Ranch Cordova, CA. Soil Born is a biodynamic begat me farm right off the bike trail. (Which I later worked at) We were going to be spending the night there and helping out with farm work in the morning. It was really my first introduction to farming of any kind. I had visited farms and seen animals on the side of the freeway. But I never worked or done any farm work of any sort. It was all SO magical to me! We went swimming in the American river around dusk and as we walked back up through the farm to where we were staying me and my friend Sophie stayed back to watch the sheep in the pasture. There was around 10 ewes with there small little lambs. The sun was setting behind them and the summer bugs and crickets were busy chirping. The little lambs all played and hopped around jumping straight off the ground, into the air. Sophie and I laughed and laughed. The little lambs were putting on quite the show. Everything just felt still and the world was so quiet and so right. The long day biking, eating yummy food, swimming in a river, and the sweet sweet sheep all mixed together created this effortless moment. I had never experienced life like that. Ever. Since then sheep and farming have become apart of everyday life. But I always think back to that moment. That moment made me want to farm. To be surrounded by life is the sweetest of gifts.
Words of wisdom for prospective students?
Woolman comes to people exactly when they need it most. It's not easy, it's not always rainbows and sunshine. Living in community is hard. Talking about the world is hard. But hard work is the most rewarding and transformative work there is. You will have the opportunity to live like you never have before. So many people have come before you. We are all welcoming you with the biggest open arms there are. Prepare to have the greatest love affair you have ever had.