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Sometimes you simply have to get away from everything to gain a better perspective on life, and Sedona is full of stories about people trying to do that in their own ways, be it through a week camping out in the middle of the desert, living off the land, or simply taking a Saturday off to hike a canyon.

Thomas Reid Watkins, top row center, sports a large-brimmed hat on a sunny day, posing with residents and fellow Peace Corps volunteers in Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé in the Panamanian province of Chiriqui. Watkins is part of a Corps program that helps students from the impoverished community find the means to pursue a university education. Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé is a semi-autonomous district  populated and governed by indigenous people of Panama, with some similarities to American Indian reservations.For Thomas Reid Watkins, however, a greater distance and longer amount of time were the key ingredients in gaining such perspective, and he’s finding it to be enriching in the very way he had hoped it would. Watkins, an alumnus of Sedona Red Rock High School, left Sedona in 2006, and after college joined the Peace Corps in its volunteer efforts abroad.

“Coming out of college, it seems like most folks either settle, retreat or advance along some designated path,” Watkins said via email. “I found myself approaching graduation with a relatively insubstantial education, a girlfriend I loved but was not prepared to marry, and a severe case of wanderlust.”

For the full story, see the Wednesday, July 10, edition of the Sedona Red Rock News.

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