Jan Reynolds Climbs the Hills of Sacred Heart

Jan Reynolds, author of "High Altitude Woman", comes to Sacred Heart

Theint Theint (11), Writer

Jan Reynolds WN3

Jan Reynolds presenting in front of the students

Photo Credit: Ellen Y. 

Jan Reynolds, the author of “High Altitude Woman”, recently came to Sacred Heart on November 18 as part of her lifelong journey to inspire women. She is a wilderness photographer for National Geographic, an extreme athlete, and an award-winning author of 14 books for children and 2 books for adults. She has set world records for high altitude skiing, and has survived a crashing hot air balloon.

In her presentation to students in grades 2, 3, 4, and 8, she spoke openly about her adventures abroad. By presenting a series of photos, she took students on her journey around the world. With her fascination for indigenous tribes tied to her love for extreme sports, Reynolds decided on a career that allowed her to experience both.

Her presentation started in Tibet, at the home of the Dalai Lama. She highlighted her experiences in the Himalayas through the salt trade route. She described how indigenous people packaged things in biodegradable material, which came from nature and would eventually return to nature. Consequently, they produce very little trash. Reynold’s message was simple: we needed to protect the environment.

Her next stop in her presentation was the Sahara Desert, where she encountered an indigenous group with a matriarchal social structure. She explained how the men were the ones to wear makeup, instead of women, to attract potential wives. She stressed how marriage is strictly the women’s decision because “what is important is the belly that holds the child”. In this culture, both men and children take the woman’s last name. The different gender norm stirred curiosity among the young students.

Her last stop was Mongolia. Reynolds remembers her expedition in Mongolia as a turning point when she understood true human compassion. Despite being a stranger, she was offered the last bit of food as well as blessings from the local community. This, she believes, highlight the genuine human connection that is so greatly lacking in the 21st century.

Her experiences informed, entertained, and inspired the students. When asked about the presentation, Saya M. (2) said, “My favorite part was when she climbed up the biggest mountain in the world, but also when she skied down.” Banna A. (8) said “She was so adventurous. I liked it.”

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Jan Reynolds on her journey through the Sahara Desert.

Photo Credit: Jan Reynolds