Sun, Sand, and School: Bali Retreat Helps People Deal with Life Changes

change school workshop
change school workshop

A session from last year’s retreat. (Courtesy: Change School)

A change of place can inspire a whole new outlook. That’s the idea behind the Change School, founded by Grace Clapham and Solonia Teodros. The two entrepreneurs developed a Bali-based retreat for people in life or career transitions.

The school opened last year and will hold its second 21-day Change Ventures program, based on the school’s “theory of change,” for 14 participants in October.

The program aims to realign people with their passions. Although students can expect to learn “hard skills,” such as a primer in reverse income statements and goal setting, the exotic locale means there’s also plenty of time for meditation, beach trips, and yoga.

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“We see the Change School as the intersection of travel, education, and personal development,” Teodros, 31, told Yahoo Travel.


Bali makes for one relaxing place to ponder a life change. (Photo: Thinkstock)

The founders know something about life-changing experiences. The two, who grew up together in Singapore, reconnected some years ago. They discovered that they both had faced challenges: Teodros decided to leave the corporate world to become an entrepreneur. For Clapham, also 31, the death of her father spurred her to rethink her life.

“We went through our own transitions, (and) there was no space for it,” Clapham told Yahoo Travel. It was either: “Go to a yoga retreat, or do a Master’s.”

The startup experts came up with another option, and the holistic Change School was born.

Related: Eat, Pray, Wait: The Impatient Person’s Guide to Bali

The program has three stages over a three-week period: First, according to the founders, there’s an introspective “deep-think” phase, which can be an “emotional roller coaster.”

change school workshop
change school workshop

(Courtesy: Change School)

Then there’s a more spiritually uplifting portion, which guides participants through peer mentorship, brainstorming, and workshops. And finally, a road map is planned for the next steps after the retreat is over.

For those who can’t take almost a month off, there are options for shorter stays.

A typical day at the retreat involves a discussion about an inspirational quote. Then each person chooses three goals, which could include a swim, an article to write, or research to complete.

Even the sometimes intense coursework can seem easier to handle in palm tree–lined surroundings.

“We try to create a really different experience,” Clapham said.

change school workshop
change school workshop

(Courtesy: Change School)

One student agrees.

“Change Ventures was one of the most impactful experiences of my life,” LaTanya White told Yahoo Travel. The 35-year-old entrepreneurship educator made the trek to Bali from Tallahassee, Fla. Along with sharpening her lecturing and counseling skills, she broadened her outlook.

“Because I had never traveled out of the country before, being able to meet and connect with people from other cultural backgrounds was helpful in making me even more conscientious and sensitive to others.”

Related: 8 Ways to Zen Out on the Road

Travel and self-improvement packaged together is not a new concept. For upscale travelers, there are educational tours to the Galapagos, for example, and self-improvement spas aimed at weight loss and fitness.

Then there is “the convergence of the personal growth industry with travel,” said Max Rayner, partner for travel industry analyst group Hudson Crossing. “The economic angle here is that guests will gladly pay far more for something that includes a travel experience than something that is just a lecture in some drab urban setting.”

Hard to disagree.

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