Sep 13th, 2017, 04:17 PM

Accents—Signi Livingstone Peters

By Leona Caanen
Image Credit: Bryson Strupp
Signi's journey to climb to the top of the world starts with one step off a rooftop and into the snow.

Whether in the City of Light or on Mount Mansfield in Vermont, sophomore AUP student Signi Livingstone-Peters never gets tired of the ever-changing sky. Her eagerness to continuously reach higher towers and higher peaks is boundless. Signi currently spends her time climbing Parisian rooftops, which act as a temporary substitute for the mountains she would rather be hiking. The change from the spacious American greenery to the narrow Parisian streets have moved Signi to find new heights in new locations: her first, and for now only, stop will be the Base Camp of Mt. Everest in February 2018.

Being outdoors is a way of life for Signi. Growing up with family and friends who enjoy spending most of their time in nature, Signi herself grew a love for being in the open air. "I had access to mountains, waterfalls, and sweet swimming holes… I think I am incredibly lucky to have grown up with that because it nurtured my relationship that I have with nature." While it is common to idolize childhood memories or activities, for Signi it was more than that. She adopted the things nature taught her into her character: to be amongst the wild, you must be passionate, quick-minded, and strong-willed. Signi aspires to be independent and adventurous, "I try to aim to be someone who's always willing to try new and unfamiliar things and someone who’s not afraid to do them alone." Those that cross Signi's path are inspired by her independence and encouraged by her adventurous spirit in life.

Signi's sense of adventure has challenged her to pursue the journey she is about to take. She was inspired by her mother who attempted the same climb but was unable to finish. February 24, 2018, marks the start of the journey. Signi is constantly looking for a new adventure and, "whenever I’ve asked my mom for advice on what to do, she’s always told me “Do what makes you feel most ALIVE! ... every time  I get to the top of the mountain my favorite thing is just lying on my back and feeling like I’m the only person in the whole world there in that moment. That sense of freedom is what makes me feel most alive."

Besides the excitement of hiking a section of the Mt. Everest, Signi is also incredibly aware of the challenges that she faces—a hike like this demands a lot from a person mentally, physically, and emotionally. "There are certainly going to be some huge mental challenges as well as psychical—and having to keep going despite exhaustion, harsh weather, probably some altitude sickness at 6,000 meters… and the harrowing 45-minute flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. That’ll be a challenge. And the Yeti too, if I run into him." Yet the Yeti might be much less worrisome than the 45-minute flight—Lukla is considered to be one of the most dangerous airports in the world with its single landing strip and a flight with no radar connection in Himalayan weather.

Besides being able to see this challenge with a sense of humor, Signi receives a personal satisfaction from hiking to the Everest Base Camp: "it is definitely going to be deeply personal. I realized something about myself over the past year, especially since being at college and living in a big city for the first time in my life is that I tend to get stressed really easily. More than I ever did at home. And the thing about stress is when it hits you, it kinda consumes you… Hiking has always been a way for me to truly escape this. It’s like I’m hitting a giant reset button.”

"Every time  I get to the top of the mountain my favorite thing is just lying on my back and feeling like I’m the only person in the whole world."

Her current reset button is located on the Parisian rooftops: the "incredible sense of freedom when you reach a view above everything [makes] things seem surreal down below. Like you’re not really there. And I really like that feeling of being above all the "clutter" of the world. I even like to do that in Paris, on the roofs." While the Parisian rooftops require less climbing and hiking, the getaway is needed occasionally. The desire to climb and hike, whether in Paris or in green spaces, for Signi "it's more of a personal hobby, where I can set personal goals for my own satisfaction and happiness."

The upcoming challenge that Signi has chosen for herself is one I find very fitting. This extraordinary young woman is leaving her comfort zone by traveling far to push herself to her limits and therefore extend those limits. Her adventurous spirit translates into her day-to-day life and she has a remarkable presence among her friends.

All images courtesy of Signi Livingstone Peters. 

Accents is a new cross-platform series featuring interviews with AUP students, friends, and alumni.
Watch this space for the forthcoming film.