An Epic ‘Open Decade’ – Stanford Report

An Epic ‘Open Decade’ – Stanford Report

Rising up within the suburbs of Silicon Valley, Anna Mattinger felt misplaced. He mentioned he was a “drawback youngster” who was typically stressed, belligerent and rebellious.

Anna Mattinger took a “decade” earlier than enrolling at Stanford this fall. (Picture: Andrew Broadhead)

“At Cupertino, it made me stick out like a sore thumb as a result of I used to be surrounded by actually good children,” he mentioned, including that whereas he beloved studying and carried out effectively academically, he did not like the standard college construction. . “I felt very a lot in a bubble and I actually wished to get out and see the world.”

After graduating highschool by concurrently enrolling in a group faculty, he continued to take lessons, however ultimately burned out. “I did not actually know why I used to be there, what I used to be doing or what I used to be attempting to show,” he mentioned. “And that is once I left.”

At age 19, Mattinger enrolled within the Again Nation Trails program. For 5 months, he lived and labored off the grid in harsh situations within the wilderness of Kings Canyon Nationwide Park, the place he constructed mountain climbing trails. He deliberate to make use of the time to clear his head earlier than returning to highschool, however on the finish of this system he determined to alter course.

“After that I mentioned: “I believe I wish to go on.” “, he recalled. “And that changed into 10 years of worldwide journey and doing a bunch of various issues.”

Mattinger mentioned the whirlwind of experiences throughout the nation and all over the world has given her better perspective and function and made her higher ready for the formal faculty expertise and the pains of Stanford. “I am actually proud of how I spent my early maturity,” he mentioned. “It actually took me an entire decade to get to the place I’m now.”


Mattinger’s travels have taken him to Europe, Africa, South America, Oceania and Asia. In 2017, his curiosity in martial arts took him to rural northwest China to coach with a Shaolin monk. His college, situated in a cornfield between the borders of Siberia and North Korea, enrolls about 10 college students at a time. Throughout every of the three visits, Mattinger underwent 40 hours of intense coaching per week.

At a Shaolin monk in Matinger County, China. (Picture credit score: Anna Mattinger)

“I’d go for just a few months and by the point I used to be executed, all my joints had been falling aside,” he mentioned.

His love for martial arts additionally took him to Thailand to study Muay Thai. In 2018, he joined a gymnasium and on the finish of his first week, the top coach and gymnasium proprietor requested him if he would take part in a pay-per-view combat. Matinger agreed, they usually started ramping up his coaching.

“I misplaced the primary combat, however I believe I realized extra from the loss than from the win,” he mentioned.

Mattinger mentioned one in all his most memorable experiences was his four-month bike journey from Key West, Fla., to Bar Harbor, Maine, in 2015. the bodily problem, the lengthy stretches of solitude and a few scary moments like getting misplaced and even getting hit by a automobile.

“Going by means of these moments actually boosted my confidence in myself and my sense of competence and stability,” she mentioned.

All through his 20s, Mattinger labored varied seasonal jobs to pay for his travels, together with as a farmhand and ski teacher on the resorts of Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain. She has additionally labored as a contract author and mannequin for smaller artists and designers. However it was throughout his years working at Burning Man, the annual week-long artwork occasion in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, the place he realized to play with fireplace.

Burning man

In 2012, Mattinger carried out as a golf cart mechanic at Burning Man. There, he additionally joined a crew that constructed a full-scale reproduction of a Spanish galleon ship that had crashed into the pier. The occasion was an expertise she’s going to always remember, because of the paintings and the distinctive social dynamic.

Mattinger canoeing in Bergen, Norway. (Picture credit score: Anna Mattinger)

“Burning Man offers a wierd different context,” he mentioned. “Everybody faces bodily realities which are actually ‘out of our factor’ in an alkaline lake, typically in excessive mud and warmth. Plenty of social pretensions and subtleties disappear in that atmosphere, and individuals are typically pressured to attempt other ways of presenting and being.”

In later years, he returned to Burning Man to hitch groups constructing massive artwork installations, which allowed him to study carpentry and pyrotechnics. In 2013, he constructed propane “puffers” that shot 30-foot fireballs from the highest of the Management Tower, a six-story bamboo construction lined in interactive LED lights.

For the 2014 occasion, he spent six months serving to to construct an set up known as Embrace, a seven-story construction formed just like the torsos of two individuals embracing. “Inside had been mechanical beating hearts and spiral staircases to the heads the place you may look into the attention sockets,” he mentioned. “It was the very best that 12 months.”

Mattinger’s travels continued, together with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the place he participated in regional “burnings” impressed by Burning Man.

He famous that his open decade was a thought experiment that gave him time to consider varied social, financial, environmental and technological challenges.

“All industries and most drawback fixing have gotten more and more entangled with computing and engineering. Computing specifically could have increasingly energy and attain in relation to making issues higher or worse than the rest,” he mentioned, including that his mental curiosities have reignited his curiosity in lecturers. “I used to be toying with the concept of ​​ultimately going again to highschool, after which the pandemic hit and my life was upended, so I assumed, “Effectively, there isn’t any higher time than now.”

Changing into a Cardinal

In 2020, Mattinger returned to California and enrolled at De Anza School to take on-line lessons, principally STEM programs. It was additionally the primary time he had ever signed a lease.

“Being at residence was new to me, however I used to be stunned at how simply I tailored,” she mentioned. “It helped that I actually realized what I used to be studying. It felt actually fulfilling.”

He utilized to a number of colleges, however mentioned he wouldn’t attend Research expertise of the aeronautics and astronautics community solidified his curiosity in Stanford. Since enrolling this fall, he is additionally been having fun with the nostalgia of being on the Farm; He spent most of his childhood right here whereas his father was a graduate scholar at Stanford. Though he has not declared a significant, he plans to review pc science and synthetic intelligence.

Mattinger mentioned there’s nonetheless so much he’d prefer to expertise, however he is excited to be a scholar once more and desirous to see what Stanford has to supply. “I am glad I waited to return to highschool as a result of I really feel good now,” she mentioned. “I’ve a function and I really wish to be right here.”

When requested the place he sees himself in ten years, he mentioned he would not imagine in making long-term plans.

“Should you’re residing proper, two or 5 or ten years from now, you may know extra, you may have extra perspective, and you’ll make higher selections about what you are going to do subsequent,” he mentioned. “Proper now I am simply excited to be right here.”

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