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Lexi duPont Journal Wisdom from Kyrgyzstan Mission
Posted on June 15, 2016

Women are treated very differently in this traditional, mountainous Muslim country so just getting these girls permission to participate took a very diplomatic effort. But they were visibly stoked.

Earlier this week we ran the report from a goodwill mission to Kyrgyzstan that included Eddie Bauer skier Lexi duPont. The story was a powerful one and duPont kept a journal of her transformative experience. We’ve excerpted a few of her most reflective moments from the trip below. —LYA Editor

Words by Lexi DuPont, Images by Jerod Anklam and Jon Mancuso

The lead story was that the American girls had melted all the snow with their warm hearts, but the reality emerged in the team's education effort about climate change that changes some perceptions about burning plastic and coal.

“Kyrgyzstan is located just a few hundred miles south of Siberia and we were prepared for negative temperatures. But the snow in town was gone by the end of our five-week service trip. It turns out that Kyrgyzstan and most of Central Asia experienced one of the warmest winters on record this year. Climate change is global, happening everywhere, and educating people about this drastic reality became one of our priorities.”

Community school emphasizing female education in Arslanbob.

“We did not see half of the women in Arslanbob. They are forced to stay in the back room of their husband’s house. It took weeks of encouragement and pleading with the girls and their families to finally get a few of them to come ski with us. Seven girls joined our ski program and they are the first girls in Arslanbob to ever ski. The three older girls, Oyniso, Ogilay, and Guljamol, all dressed in purple with long black skirts. All three of them have big dreams of being actresses, policewomen and teachers. They are smart, brave, kind and hard-working. I am so inspired by their eagerness and dedication to learn and try new things.”

Eat local. Sheep head delicacy being cooked in the traditional manner—via diesel fuel flamethrower then boiling—to cook every useful part including eyeballs, brains, tongue and hooves.

“So many mountain-loving people search for adventure, and what could be more adventurous than traveling to a Muslim country in Central Asia to live with a host family and ski the most impressive mountains I have ever seen? Now the locals have the equipment to facilitate those adventuring spirits and, in turn, they will reap the benefits of cultural exchange and a steady winter income.”

Horse lift.

“Step by step, we are breaking the mold, inspiring and knocking down barriers with the help of the community and, most importantly, we are changing the minds of the men, the teachers and the fathers to cultivate confidence among the women around them.”

Future rippers in their new American gear.

“In Kyrgyzstan, the fastest skier is the best skier. He doesn’t have to know how to stop or turn: he just has to get down the hill the fastest. Rubber rain boots clicked into some super-old plastic bindings on a pair of skinny straight skis, blue jeans, leather jacket, no hat, no gloves and, for sure, no goggles.”

Kids who walk five miles uphill to the ski hill.

“It’s a beautiful world, and I feel like I am doing a good job of maximizing my body, my heart and my mind in my time on earth. I have pushed my physical limits but, more importantly, my mental limits and the limits of my heart. I feel like I am getting to an age where I can share the wisdom I have gained with the world. With these young girls, and this community. Nayla and I are building windows into a happy, progressive and purposeful way of living, and hopefully these people will take the opportunity to open these windows and take a look at the endless possibilities around them.”

Kyrgyz people have a different way of doing almost everything

“Kyrgyz people have a different way of doing almost everything. It’s something I am getting used to around here, and I have found it most effective to just take a step back and observe. They have been doing it their way for hundreds of years—maybe even thousands—and who am I to step in and tell them there is a better way of doing it.”

The community harvest result of a location at the edge of the world's largest walnut forest.

“Arslanbob is located on the edge of the largest walnut forest in the world. It’s their claim to fame, and for good reason. Not only is it beautiful, but the entire community lives off the forest. In the summer months, everyone in town heads into the forest to collect walnuts. They set up camps on the corners of their platted area and collect nuts. People travel from around the world to see the forest and take part in the seasonal gathering.”

Girls learning to do something other than just make babies—duPont teaches the young ladies how to shred.

“The moon shined bright in the sky to the west. A muted yellow hue glowed on the mountain scape horizon to the east. The smell of burning coal seeping through the walls of the mud houses filled the air. Frozen mud puddles crunched under our feet as we briskly walked to the dog hill to catch the sunrise. Handmade mud barns with hay sticking out of the roofs stood proud, silhouetted by the glow in the sky. We were welcomed to the morning by the early-rising roosters.”

Nayla teaching the girls to shred.

“The sun kept creeping and the farm song escalated as we hiked up the horse path to get a better view of the town. Racing the sun, it didn’t take long for us to reach our perch and set up our cameras to capture the day-awakening beauty. I kept my eyes on the Babashata, the massive mountain that towers 9,000 feet above town, waiting for the first light to warm its sublime, cliffy face. The rock slowly turned from yellow to orange to pink, and the light slowly glided down the mountain.”

The Return to Kyrgyzstan crew with the locals that welcomed them to the Tian Shan Mountains.

Learn more about Nayla Tawa’s Return to Kyrgyzstan project and film at ReturnToKg.com.

Author: - Wednesday, June 15th, 2016
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  1. Lorie Drummond

    Wonderful blog. I know Lexi personally can attest to the fact that the world is a better place because of her. She is unselfish, upbeat and incredibly talented. Eddie Bauer, LLC, you are fortunate to have her on board. She represents you well. Lorie


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