Kiera McNicholas – a left handed student of life (metaphorically and physically), a wanderer, passionate learner, food lover, farmer, water lover, 3 month volunteer…
What inspires you?
Lately I have felt extremely inspired by people around me who live their truth. This feels so raw and so simple. In acting on this inspiration and diving deep into my truth I have deepened my sense of gaining inspiration. It is a vicious cycle I am so glad to be caught up in.
How did you come accross Embercombe?
I was looking for an residential environmental education center to volunteer at last summer and wanted to try and be near family in England (who I hadn’t seen in over 3 years), so I google searched environmental education centres in South Devon. There were a few but I knew in my gut that there was something special about Embercombe. (My gut was right and led me to a special, beauty filled, reality of the life I have been reaching for and dreaming for for years.)
What is the hardest thing about being a volunteer at Embercombe?
Arriving and needing to be comfortable in myself and confident enough to ask questions. I felt extremely overwhelmed with new things when I first arrived. This is part of why I feel like I love and grow from Embercombe so much. When I am passionately taking responsibility for making my life what it is, when I get thrown in the deep end I find the muscles I need to swim pretty quickly. In this way I really shape my reality rather than feeling like I need to fit into the box of expectations outside of myself so even though it was the hardest part I am also extremely grateful for how the reality unfolded.
What has been the most surprising thing you have experienced at embercombe?
Hm, the most surprising. Probably how much personal growth I have noticed in a small amount of time, say 3 months, 2 weeks, 1 conversation… It seems constant.
What will you take with you from your time here?
So much. Life feels so real at Embercombe that it is hard to single out or separate… Beautiful memories, unforgettable relationships… Most importantly a deeper level of self respect and inner strength than I had tasted before my time at Embercombe. Really and honestly feeling as though when I priority self respect all will fall into place beautifully, and in a way that can be hard to see though I believe is true, in doing this I will show and share real love with those in my life.
What would be the one piece of advice you would give to someone thinking of volunteering at Embercombe?
Volunteering at Embercombe, as is the case for life, is what you make it. Take responsibility for that and be proud. Do what is best for you while testing your comfort zone to learn what inner strength is developing and waiting to be called for.
What are you going on to do with your life…life after Embercombe?
I am going to be the person Embercombe provided the space for me to see I am now and allow that to grow, strengthen, evolve, and adjust appropriately to my environment and my hearts changes. Holding onto the realisation that my opinion matters and is valid and right as well as the strength and beautiful raw reality that comes with living my truth. I never want to forget to live with those thoughts and reality close by my side. Specifically, where my feet will be or what my hands and heart will do I am not sure but characteristically I plan and dream of staying beautiful, passionate about learning, and most importantly true to myself.
What was the most memorable meal you had at Emberocmbe?
There is SO much quality food at Embercombe. Goodness! Everyday I feel so nourished, lucky, and healthy. A specific meal did pop into my head the instant I read the question. I do not remember the specific foods I put in my body but I remember the sounds of pleasure mixed in with comfortable silence of those eating. It was a meal that involved lots of dishes all on the table at the same time (savoury, sweet, and bitter) and an intimate exchange. Everyone ate with their hands with deepened the connection to the food even more! It was so beautiful and such a special night. The quiet pride of the chefs, the glowing eyes of the receivers, and the deep gratitude of hearts and stomachs of all.
What is really exciting you as you leave Embercombe…
So much. The potential. The people. The change that is alive in the air.
What is worrying you?
The amount of people that do not have a direct connection or relationship with soil. Children growing up surrounded by concrete fills me with sadness and fear.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
The potential of the day. The potential learning, conversations, enjoyment, growth, hard work.
What song always makes you get up and dance?
Hey Brother by Avicii. The lyrics are beautiful and it has an up beat lively rhythm that I find it hard not to move to.
You were unschooled as a child, how do you think this has influenced your life?
I strongly believe my education shaped me to be the person I am today. Having the responsibility and freedom to structure my own learning and focus on what I was and am excited about and motivated to learn makes life so exciting and hopeful. I also believe I have a strong sense of self and independence because of this.
What do you think about Embercombe’s education offering ?
I love the trust and feel like that is such an important element in education at embercombe and everywhere else. Having facilitators-educators who are not only willing but eager to expand their learning, it is amazing how this can support learning. (I say that from the privilege of direct experience with mentors who have that mindset and live that reality.) The reality of rolling around in the mud and the flexibility to follow the natural flow of the group as well as the surroundings (like the bee swarm!)