~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS6 student Maren Hurley. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s 17 learning goals. Maren is from Asheville, North Carolina where she attends the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences.~
“Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~Mary Oliver
Each night this semester, I have opened my journal to recount the happenings of each day: what we did in class, what happened after school, who made me laugh, my highlights of the day…I want to be able to recall each and every part of this amazing experience when I am done here. These days, when I open my journal, the scant blank pages remind me of how close we are now to the end—we have barely two weeks left after all. It’s heartbreaking, and at the same time, exhilarating to think about the end of the semester. I feel like I have accomplished so much here, I have grown in so many ways, and I have seen my friends grow and learn along with me.
At the beginning of the semester, I wrote that I wanted to learn more about the environment so I could better protect, that I wanted to make new friends, and I wanted to make memories. I’m proud to say that I feel like I have met and exceeded each of those goals. I came here feeling fairly informed about environmental issues and the like, but now I realize I hadn’t even reached the tip of the iceberg. These days, I could talk with authority on the debate over oil in ANWR, on the merits and issues of nuclear energy, and my love of the environment has only grown.
The friendships I have made here are like none other I have ever had. Living together, playing together, laughing and crying together really lets you see a person. Every time there was a conflict, it just brought us closer together in the end. It’s true, it’s hard to become truly close friends with sixty three people in four months, but I feel like we are all family here. And friendship extends beyond the boundaries of my peers, to my teachers, who so often invited me over to talk and have a cup of tea or some dessert. These are the people who have affected my life profoundly.
As for the memories, it is hard for me to write about them without a lump growing in my throat, but a smile on my face. Bonfires, sing-a-longs, solo photography trips, climbing trees, card games after dinner, staying up all night long and then going to see the sunrise. The experiences here are of a different quality than most I feel. They’re brighter and more vibrant. I am so glad that I kept a journal while I was here, because I know as I leave Conserve, I will have more wonderful times and friends, but these are truly special and I will never forget them.
I am equal parts saddened and thrilled by the end of the semester. My time here has flown by, and it feels similar to a roller coaster ride, with all the ups and downs, but always endless fun and exhilaration. But I can’t wait to start my life after Conserve. My goals have changed and expanded drastically: I would like to propose a Community Stewardship Day at my home school, because I enjoyed our work here so much. I would also like to work for Wangari Maathai’s Greenbelt Movement, as I have a strong love of African culture and I feel like my work could help give back to a country that I admire and love. Finally, I would like to start two nonprofits, one working on improving green spaces in big cities, and another dealing with environmental justice, making sure that no one gets the short end of the environmental stick because of socioeconomic circumstances. The list goes on outside of that, but it is a list sure to fill pages, so I’ll stick to the important ones.
I am not sure where I am going in life, but the general idea is “big places.” Next year, I’m hoping to attend another semester school, this one focuses on art, called the Oxbow School, and after that, college. I would like to find a career that incorporates my love of art, the environment, and social justice, and Conserve has been a great place for me to explore on part of that. When this semester finally comes to to a close, I will be going home, but I will also be leaving home. My last goal is that I never forget what Conserve has given me, in hopes, dreams, friends, and knowledge.
What I Have Learned At Conserve:
-Small actions can make a big difference
-Be kind to everyone
-Say what you mean, and mean what you say
-Practice makes perfect, or at least improvement
-Take the initiative
-Pull an all-nighter every once in a while, just for fun
-Tie-dye is a wardrobe staple
-Don’t judge someone on first impressions: get to know them
-Take time for yourself
-Getting up early is worth it sometimes
-Never be afraid to tell someone how you feel
-Balance is key
~Maren Hurley, Conserve School Semester 6
More photos from Maren’s semester at Conserve School.