Planning Your Switchboard Roadtrip: Michela '12 & the Power of Community Advice

Michela and three of her friends posted an ask on Switchboard last April. The four of them were seeking advice on a roadtrip to the Southwest that they were planning for the summer. Michela chose to post on Switchboard because she had had success with Switchboard before. “I had a lot of success with Switchboard before (finding a place to stay in NYC), and I was really impressed with the effort alumni made to help,” she says.

Michela and her friends also knew that the advice they received from their community would be unique and reliable. Michela says, “Secondly, we figured that Reedies would have good perspectives on our Southwest adventures that we wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. We’d looked through guidebooks and the internet broadly, but wanted some targeted advice or at least advice that we could trust 100%.”

Several members of their community responded with advice on where to go, what to eat, and what to avoid. “Honestly the suggestions we got from Reedies ended up being the best advice we got for the whole trip,” Michela says. “Paria Canyon and Calf Creek Falls literally shocked us into complete silence. They were both at the ends of 3 mile hikes and the incredible beauty of slot canyons at sunset and a waterfall at sunrise after a desert hike was literally breathtaking. I will probably never forget how awesome and just totally alive I felt after visiting those two places. And we would have never thought to go to them without the advice of Reedies on Switchboard.”

Some people come to Switchboard looking for a mentor, or for a place to stay. But Michela found a life-changing experience. “The other Switchboard-related story that really sticks out to me is our 3 day trek into and out of the Grand Canyon,” says Michela. “The trek was physically and emotionally grueling and full of unbelievable turns of events. It was intense and I’m not sure I would necessarily recommend people do what we did, but it is one of the things in my life I am most proud of, and is the first story I tell people when they ask what the trip was liked. Had we not been inspired by advice on Switchboard we probably wouldn’t have even had the idea to hike into the Canyon in the first place and definitely wouldn’t have had the guts to follow through with it.”

Michela adds, “More generally, that entire trip was one of the best and most important experiences of my life, and it came together in large part due to the generosity, helpfulness, and enthusiasm of the Reed community.” Our communities can change our lives if we only know how to tap into their reservoirs of experience and altruism. Switchboard makes it easy to ask our communities for help, and for our communities to respond to those asks. Sometimes this manifests as a job or internship, sometimes as a breathtaking view of a waterfall after sunrise.

Photos by Rick McCharles and Greg Willis, respectively.