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Self Evaluation and Reflection

Alexandra's picture

     This semester, my Emily Balch Seminar, (E-Sem) began with a lot of confusion on my part. I was unaware I had been transferred into the Identity/Environment classroom and I was expecting to learn about collective memory. Thus, from the start of this course, I was distant. My posts and papers were elementary (the first web event especially) and it was clear I did not work hard to challenge myself. With reading assignments, I neither engaged nor appreciated mentally stimulating articles. However, near the middle of the semester I had a small epiphany as I was speaking to my father on the phone. He made a comment to me and it was the first instance I realized just how passionate I am about topics we cover in class. I had been telling him of an assignment where every student had to find a current news article regarding politics and climate change. I found a particular opinion editorial that praised America for rejecting the construction of the Keystone Pipeline for purely economic reasons: it was appalling. As I shared this story with my father, he told me that I sounded like his podcasts when he would fast forward through the commentary: apparently I was very excited. From that point forward, I began to truly appreciate the discussion in class. I thoroughly enjoyed the readings and posting assignments, but I felt that I had less direction in my essays. I believe this is because from that point forward, I began to think past the apparent content in these scholarly articles. I wanted to understand the deeper meanings the authors tried to convey and I wanted to understand why these implications were significant. So I began to question my thesis' in my later essays. I wanted to apply the knowledge I was learning to events occurring in today’s society. I feel I successfully did that, I am very satisfied with my last web event about ecological intelligence. 

     Moreover, I find myself consciously making an effort to be "ecologically intelligent" now. Just today, as I was cleaning out my dorm room, I noticed I was going through each and every one of my roommate’s trash bins to remove papers and plastics that should have been recycled. A couple weeks ago I thought it wiser if I stopped buying clothes just because they were cheap, if I stopped supporting capitalist corporations like Starbucks, and if I started to eat less meat. I have never sat in a classroom for four months and have so many of my beliefs and opinions be drastically converted. That is the realm in which I have learned throughout E-Sem. Every reading, post, and paper are assignments I have actively, mentally absorbed. My experience has been unlike others’ where students seemed confined to lessons of citing sources and peer editing- yet my E-Sem did not exclude learning these beneficial skills. Ultimately, however, I feel as though I have grasped more cognizance than my peers in different courses. Reflecting on these past couple of months, I have learned to actively read about important causes and I have learned to challenge my personal thoughts when I write. I have learned to care about my surroundings. I have learned to not only care about my near surroundings, but to be aware of my decisions and how they may affect men and women cultures, languages, and miles away.   


     In truth, because of this course, I have been thinking about possible environmental careers in my future. I have always been passionate about political science and aspects of economics, and thus, I aspire to apply these subjects to environmental intelligence. I have come to understand just how vital it is that society change its habits to guarantee a future for all living organisms. Throughout the six-week project, I discovered just how easily I could obtain knowledge/facts about anything with research. -I was so intrigued with Hannah and my results of the influences of contact zones in the classroom environment. It was fascinating to view, firsthand, how every detail had an impact on class correspondence.- Knowledge is at our fingertips and I hope that through political science, economics, Emily Balch seminars, ecological science, etc. that humans work together to find solutions. I could not be more grateful for my ESem experience and the genuine knowledge and interest it inspired in me. I thank everyone who, with me, was apart of this process.