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Identity Shifted

R_Massey's picture

            This course, Changing the Environment: Shifting Identities, Altering Environments, did much to shape how I will go into my next semesters in college and years after. The provocative readings and investigative discussions opened the door to a school of thought I had not entered. In challenging the berth of my contact zone through the ten week project, I have a whole new outlook on how I spend my time and money. I know that I have grown over the course of this class and can look into my writings to see this growth. This one class had a great impact on me as an individual. Realizing the different ways in which we relate to the world around us and infinite possibilities within us is a art of figuring out our place in the world today. Ever changing, the environment we live in is very much alive. As fellow actors in this great ecosystem, we have to do our part to change and adapt to the world as it continues to progress. This course allowed me to see the importance of thinking of each connection we make with those around us as an active tie instead of a stagnate association. This greater sense of the web of life is something that is natural but not innately known. In shifting how I see my identity, I believe I am better able to alter my environment.

            The expansion of my identity began with the readings. From Minnie Bruce Pratt to Van Jones, I found that there was something of myself to be discovered with each new reading. As I read the deep personal thoughts and opinions of our various authors, I came to learn more of myself because I was looking at the same image through a different lens. In some cases I realized something about myself that was hidden from view. The strong manner with which many of the authors approached their work was very thought provoking. This was tremendously evident in the class discussions. With an interesting divide of personalities, there was always people that agreed with different aspects of an authors’ work for different reasons or disagreed with certain aspects of an authors’ work for another reason. It was not hard to find someone willing to play devil’s advocate during a discussion. My favorite thing about these discussions would be that, in hearing others positions on a topic, I was able to expand the way I viewed a topic. There is something innate about hearing an idea that appeals to your moral and ethical ideals and liking it. Only when you are forced to defend this appreciation of another’s work are you truly forced to figure out your ideals are and why you have them. The readings would often build upon each other or take an alternative route. Either way, there was never a time when I did not feel benefitted by the reading that I did. Whether the way that a reading provoked me was brought up in class or not, I know that there was something about each reading I did that made me rethink my way of thinking. There is nothing I like more than to have the opportunity to grow in intellect and intellectual capacity. It is safe to say that I grew in both over the course of this semester and am happy to have done so.

            One of the ways that I was truly expanded was the ten week project. Spawning from the idea of a contact zone outside of eyes view, we were sent out into the world and given the opportunity to learn of the various connections between ourselves and the world. I have always been a very conscious and existential thinker, but it always amazes me that we share so much interaction with a world of people we have never met in person and likely never will. Having chosen to investigate into the world of bottled water, my partner and I were opened up to the vast world of globalization and capitalism. Not to say that we were unaware of the looming presence, but never so closely connected to it. Putting a company and process and people to such activity made it that much more real. My partner looked specifically into the logistics of Nestle’s Pure Life inner workings and I looked into the grander effect of the company’s work. Together, we uncovered the troublesome activity the company undergoes as a general system of operations. From chemically altering water, over-charging for a fundamental human essential, corrupting groundwater in developing countries to infiltrating the economies of over twenty different countries, it became more and more clear that we were dealing with an international power. As though it was not enough to be in control of most of the world’s drinkable water, Nestle also is greatly involved in the global economy. It was almost unbelievable to realize the contact zone we enter simply by buying a bottle of water. Thinking back to other presentations, I remember one of my favorite focuses of one of the projects was how much the world we are in contact wants to be in contact with us. The graph, showing how much the girls wore the clothes of a company on one side and how much information was made available by the company on the other, was eye opening. Looking at the companies that had minimal contact with the individuals was like looking at a bad relationship. It made me wonder what would happen if we treated out relationship with companies like we treat our relationship with other people. What if we only put effort and care into the companies that were doing the same for us? This personification was mind boggling when it came to mind and still is as we close the semester.

            It is these moments of great discovery that I find personal development. For me, much of this great discovery came from my one on one meetings and writings. I know that I am one to work through ideas verbally, but the analysis that I do when writing is where I think the true value of my work lies. I have always been one for telling great stories, and I now know that I write wanting to take my reader on an adventure. It was only when entering this class, and dealing with these multi-dimensional issues of identity and environment, that I found the true value in having a strong point and opinion in my writing. My idea of a good essay before was having an obscure position with a tantalizing tale to overwhelm the lack of depth of the work. Now I am well able to create a world in my writing and have a good point at the core. Instead of building up my story to cover up an idea, I create a story to emphasize the importance of the idea that is the foundation of the essay. Writing with the point of entertainment is nice but missing in a deeper motive. It can be said that every author writes wanting to tell their reader of something important to them, but making your reader realize this importance is what the story is for. I have learned that it is not about conforming to a formula to write an essay worth reading. Writing an essay that you would want others to read is an essay that properly portrays your views and ideas in a manner that properly portrays you. I would not want my ideas to be heard through another’s voice; they would no longer be mine. One thing I know to b true in writing, due to my progression in my class, is that ideas are worth being heard and you should always tell them in the strongest voice.

            I do not think that I could have picked a better class for myself. I know that I picked it as one of my top three on a whim but got placed in with purpose. College is all about identity and environment. The aspect of identity is clearly seen by many, but the environment is just as important. Knowing where I was, my mental state of ignorance about the interconnectedness of life, it is not hard to understand where people could be driven to believe this to be true. Having the shroud of ignorance pulled over my head, I cannot continue to act negligently towards the contact zone we live in today. It is vast and far reaching. Our contact zones reach beyond interpersonal connections, but reach into intrapersonal and existential. Due to the work done in this class, I have a stronger understanding of myself and the relationship I share with those around me. The readings and class discussions opened my mind to question why I think what I think; the ten week project allowed me to expand how I think, and the essays helped me to explore my voice as a writer. This course was not just about our identities and environments but about how they interact and relate. This connection and interaction is how we define our identities and interpret our environments. In closing out this semester, I know the environment of my mind was definitely altered, and my identity was shifted.