In these final days of the course, we shift our outlook from new experiences and learning to an integration of what we have learned as we all transition back home. While we start that process here, it can take days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years to understand how it was. And yet, the most common question for us when we return home is “how was the trip?” It can feel overwhelming to try to answer that big question in a few words, so we started practicing that here today. The students each took their first attempt to answer the question “How was the trip?” in one word, one sentence, and one paragraph, and some of these answers are included below to give everyone following along a taste of our first reflections on the past two and a half months.
How was your trip?
It really broadened my perspective on a lot of issues.
It was great and I had some amazing experiences.
It was a lot, great opportunity, I got to experience some things I never had before.
I learned so much that it’s difficult to articulate and I met some of the most amazing people.
In addition to having a lot of fun, I was able to reflect on my responsibility to land and to others.
I did so much, too much to encapsulate into a sentence.
It was extremely intense and eye-opening and it pushed me to examine my place in the world.
It was busy, challenging, and gave me lots of new perspectives.
The experiences we were privy to were eye-opening.
It was one of the most educational, unique, and fun semesters I’ve ever had.
It was wild. I loved being completely off the grid and actually exploring topics within our own country that hit close to home. The time we spent in the front country in McAllen and then La Madera provided the bulk of the education, but hiking and canoeing were my favorite parts.
This semester was one of the most unique I’ve ever had, and is hard to articulate. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone often with physically demanding treks trough the desert, with learning about new perspectives from within my own country, and with acknowledging personal privilege and responsibility. We focused on the Rio Grande and all of the complexities it holds as a border and as a natural beauty – and what both of those contexts mean for different people. We confronted our relationships to the land we inhabit and discussed how we can live with intention. Not only was this semester extremely educational and eye-opening, but I met badass speakers doing the actual work, instructors who I can now call mentors, and incredible friends that I am excited to have for a long time.
It was so much more than I thought it was going to be. I learned so much about myself as well as the country I live in and some of the different types of people who inhabit it. I met people with different lifestyles, stories, and beliefs from myself and learned about the issues they face and my place within them. I also learned about some of the ways I can help, and during the time I spent with them I like to think I did. I was given opportunities to have conversations and experiences that I never would have had otherwise and the things I learned from them are lessons that have in some ways changed the way I see the world, and have likely helped changed the course of my life. I know not much may have changed for you in these past two months, but I’ve been given a lot of time to reflect on myself and have really learned a lot. Thank you so much for letting me have this opportunity, I love you all more than anything and I can’t wait to tell you more about it.
It changed the way I saw the country. In a sense, it almost felt like I wasn’t in the US; I realized how broad and nebulous the array of problems this country faces are. I understand now how geographical context is so pertinent to understanding issues such as immigration, water and land rights, the protection of indigenous peoples, wealth distribution, and so on. Rather than looking at these things from a comfortable distance, I was put in the midst of it all and forced to think about these things head on. To a degree, it is now my job to continue and expand upon what information and experiences I have been entrusted with; I can no longer be complacent.