Unlearning By Bike // Nicole
Nicole is on a mission to “Unlearn the World” and raise funds & awareness for the Happy Kids Center by riding her bike from Thailand to Spain via the ancient Silk Road.
Wish Machine On The Road:
“I´ve reached my symbolic finish line! I´m sitting in at a hostel computer in Bilbao, charging my bits and bobs. My bike is packed up behind me and soon we’ll travel together to the train station where we´ll go to Madrid. I’ve traveled around 16,000 km with that thing. That´s the same as crossing the United States from East to West 4 times. Since our last update in Turkey, I´ve crossed Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, France and a bit of Spain. Leaving me with a total of 21 countries crossed by bike and at this moment nearly $10,500 raised for HKC. As of today, August 7, 2019, I´ve spent 517 days on the road. Still, with only 1 puncture. I have been robbed twice on this trip. Once in Georgia where my bicycle was stolen (and then returned to me) and then again the other day, when I reached Spain. My wallet was stolen leaving me penniless and stranded. Luckily, a Moroccan family saw me distraught and offered me a place in their home. They didn’t know me. I didn’t know them. But they opened their arms to a person in need. THIS is the embodiment of my trip and of the culture that Electric Forest perpetuates. It’s recognizing the humanity in people first. Opening your arms and your hearts to people and extending your family. I stayed for one night in their home in Northern Spain. Luna is 27, and she and I spent hours talking late into the night. She made me feel like home. Like family. This isn’t the first time people have showed up for me. This is the way of the road, the happenstance of a life of vulnerability, unpredictability and exposure.”
Photo Credit: Jeremy John
“Unlearning By Bike” is Nicole’s mission to intentionally disregarding preconceived ideas about people and places around the world, and instead, set aside differences and immerse herself into cultures to truly learn and experience them.
Nicole’s friends are regular attendees of Electric Forest and have always preached the gospel of connection, presence, and experience – calling people to take this microcosm of society and bring it out into the world. Nicole embodies and spreads this Forest ethos by living through experience, connecting to people of different cultures, languages and backgrounds, and using that privilege to positively impact the world– starting with a small community in Bhaktapur, Nepal and rippling out into the world.
Nicole imagined ways that her mission and Electric Forest share common inspiration: The Spirit of Experience & Acceptance.
“Electric Forest is an ‘experiment in community’ asking Forest Family to put aside differences and prejudices to focus on connection. After experimenting in that connection and trust in strangers through shared spaces and artistic collaboration, it is evident that this is a framework that provides a lasting paradigm shift for those who experience it.
Unlearning by Bike is an experiment of trust and connection. Exposing myself, especially as a woman, to the elements and to communities who differ so much from my cultural upbringing requires a lot of trust and surrender to vulnerability. In my year and a half long experiment, I have had the same paradigm shift that Electric Forest offers. A bike ride like this, and The Forest, can serve as a catalyst for hope for humanity via an experiment of sorts – about taking yourself out of your comfort zone and diving in headfirst.
Just like the Forest Family accepting each other in the Sherwood Forest, I have had to accept cultural practices and norms that have seemed strange to me, and locals have had to accept that in my culture do things that seem strange to them. At Happy Kids Center, we strongly state that we’re not there to change their culture… that they are beautiful and that there is so much that we can learn from one another. What we don’t accept, however, is the discrimination that has condemned these people to poverty all their lives.”
Nicole continues her journey across continents through Electric Forest 2019, and in return, will join the Forest Family in 2020. HQ challenges the Forest Family to learn more about Nicole’s journey and support her mission of Unlearning By Bike for the Happy Kids Center.
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