Jackson native receives prestigious fellowship to help kids in India

(Jackson, Wyo.) - In September, Jackson native Cal Brackin will leave his home and job at Colter Elementary School to head to India. In India, he will work with migrant communities to help develop educational and social programs for their youth. This is part of the competitive and prestigious William J. Clinton Fellowship for Service that Brackin was recently awarded. Brackin was born and raised in Jackson. Following high school, he attended the University of Oregon where he earned a degree in International Studies. After college, he returned to Jackson for a year where he played on the Moose hockey team and worked as a snowboard instructor at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Then he got an itch to travel again. “I traveled to Argentina and that is where I fell back in love with art, so I did 5 months of backpacking and illustrating journals,” said Brackin. This travel helped reignite his passion for art, international studies and working with kids. He worked for City Kids Wilderness Project locally and then traveled to Central California to work in a rural community school as an AmeriCorps volunteer. This helped him get in get into the University of Wyoming Peace Corps Masters International program. The program required one year of academic studies at UW, two years of International Peace Corps work and then a semester of writing a thesis. From 2013 to 2015, Brackin was based in Choir, Mongolia. He was there to help kids of herders who live in a dormitory nine months of the year. “The dormitory kids don’t have their parents -- just a house mom and a cook -- so there is very little adult supervision or guidance," said Brackin. "Academically and emotionally, the kids don’t have a whole lot of support. You can go into a school and tell which kids are from the dormitory because they are usually less involved in the school environment and don’t perform as well." [image: Inline image 1] *Cal Brackin with the peer mentoring group in Choir, Mongolia. Photo provided by Cal Brackin.* To help the dormitory kids advance academically and socially, Brackin developed a peer mentoring program. Since, the program has spread across Mongolia and continues today. After returning from Mongolia, Brackin finished his thesis and began working for Colter Elementary School. He was also awarded an Amy Ringholz Foundation grant for his art, which he will be pursing this summer. “I will be out in the Wind River Range for about three weeks doing artwork and generating images,” he said. Prior to September, Brackin will find out exactly where he will be working, then he will spend 10 months developing programs for the migrant youth of India. *Feature Photo: Brackin on a trek in Arkhangai Province and drawing in a ger (yurt) with a nomadic family. These students were housed at the local dormitory during the school year. Photo provided by Cal Brackin. * #buckrail #news