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Self Evaluation

Shengjia-Ashley's picture

I started at a pretty bad place. I did not even realize how little time I spend with nature and think ecologically until I attended Ecological Imaginings course. In choosing an on campus site, I was the only person in class to adopt an indoor site and intended to observe nature from afar through the window, which I later learned in Terry Tempest Williams book, is an unnatural thing to do. Since I had little memory of nature and was not used to ecological thinking, I even compared the natural scenery of the night sky with the scenes from man-made films. Worse still, as an international student whose first language is not English, I was overwhelmed by the readings and had a difficult time fully expressing myself in my essays. On top of these, I was also dealing with culture differences (that my essay is always not explicit enough), my procrastination and my homesickness.

I could talk little about the first few readings, not because I did not read them carefully because they are talking about those new ideas that were higher than my normal thinking horizon, for example Bohm confused me by comparing the usual method writing with quantum, because I think writing and physics are incomparable at that time. I could only turn in a somewhat beginning of a paper for my first paper, simply because I did not have the confidence to write a paper at that time. Nor have I been used to setting time to sitting alone on  grass thinking how dependable human are of plants and other ideas or refelctions.

There were times when I felt I had made a mistake in my decision to come to United States.  Classes are much harder than I imagined. I had to squeeze my brain hard to grasp the ideas in the readings and express my ideas through English letters. Sometimes I felt I was thrown onto a foreign land to stand on my own shaky legs, especially during Fall Break I was very disheartened when I read the other international student’s paper to be much more organized than mine.

Then I learned to take a Thoreauvian walk – a sauntering without a goal, a ruminating of the thinking. I learned to get lost so as to extend the boundaries of self into unknown terror and try to see the world through the lenses of different people. I enjoyed playing with alternative languages to express my. I started to accept human’s dependence on plants. I started to recognize our use of pesticides is affecting the earth in numerous ways and think of ways to put actions to the environmental problems. I began to take new approaches to the world, to evaluate the world other than the monetary systems used in GDP calculation. I began to value the earth as a whole that natural and society is inseparable.

Through the courses of learning, I felt that have built a deeper connection with the ecological system I am living in. I have started to acknowledge that the grass also has own the right to be named “individually” (since “personally” could not be a correct word). I started to enjoy the reflection time on have on Carpenter Lawn.

The reading started to speak to me as I began to have a bigger and bigger joint with the authors regarding ecological concerns. Now I do not see physics and writing as separate subjects, but looks for the interesting interconnections between all subjects.

My writing as got much better as well. Looking at the final web paper I published online. I wrote a complete academic paper, with an arguable thesis and supporting evidence form my own experience and the reading we did in class.