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ThreeInAPattern

Student Reflections on the Fall Expedition

“It is hard to describe how inspiring it was to be back on the bus for the fall semester. Our intimate community went deep in investigating how energy extraction and use affects us and the natural world. We met with many amazing resource people, including a number of AEI (and TCS) alumni. It was heartening to see a new generation of students transformed through the power of expedition education.”  ~ Ian Hitchcock


Art TimeAt the close of the semester, the students were each asked to write a paper articulating several things, including, what it was about the bus and the expedition educational model that encouraged and supported their engagement and learning in the semester. They were also asked about how they might have changed in terms of life-long learning skills and attitudes, and finally about how they plan to continue the learning they started on the bus. The quotes shared below are excerpts from the final papers of three undergraduate students. 

“This semester reaffirmed my belief that experiential education, specifically the expedition education model, is the way I learn best (at least that I have found so far in my life). I am most engaged in anything in my life when I feel emotionally connected. …on the bus everything we learned was so real and personal I felt emotionally connected to it all. Because we were actually meeting people and visiting places affected by all of the issues we discussed, I experienced it all on a very personal and emotional level…and truly understood the importance of all of the learning…” ~ Anna Keeva


“This past semester has been a truly rewarding, transforming, and perspective changing experience. Before I got on the bus I did not think about my everyday decisions as I do now. I knew that there are major issues with the systems…, but I was less aware of what these issues exactly are and how we can change them.” ~ Tim Prokesch


“…expedition education allowed me to more fully appreciate the importance of different ways of knowing…. Because the bus allowed me to travel to different places and to viscerally experience them, I gained a richer and deeper understanding of issues surrounding climate change above and beyond the intellectual. I have always known that destroying mountains to get at coal is a problem, but standing on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia and seeing the devastation that the coal industry has wrought helped me to feel it. There was no illusion of separation, no pretense of objective observation as I cried overlooking a ridge that had been decimated and heard the pain in the voices of the people whose homes, health, and very lives were under constant assault. I didn’t feel like an outsider looking in on the world. Rather, I was immersed within it.” ~ Ian


ThreeInHammocksThe academics are all integrated and since there are courses covering how live and learn together and lead and teach one another in addition to those on culture, nature, and the environment, it is often safe to say that everything we do on a bus semester is academic, or at least it can be.
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“I appreciated the fact that…there was no separation between what we were learning about and our own lives and our environment…. Nothing exists separate from anything else in the world and by looking at things from a scientific, political, and economic perspective all at the same time I was able to see how everything fits together.” ~ Anna

“Also, because we spent so much time together, there was a lot of room for people to share their knowledge on all kinds of subjects…, so I was able to soak up knowledge from the experiences of everyone in the community.”  ~ Anna


“The community aspect of the bus was life changing. …I think my new world view wouldn’t be the way it is right now without that community support. Just being around awesome open-minded people was such a luxury. At any time I could bounce an idea around and I would get feedback… There was no separation between classroom and free time. Every moment was a chance to learn!” ~ Tim


“In living in close quarters with people 24/7, I learned quickly about my needs in relating to other people and felt a heightened awareness towards meeting the needs of others. The primary lesson here was to treat myself and others with compassion and respect.

The structure of living relatively simply out of a tent made it easier to be more attentive to myself and the surrounding world, particularly in the absence of technological distractions.”  ~ Ian


“I felt that everything we studied was constantly around me because everyone I spent time with was also studying it. It was so helpful to have conversations with everyone about resource visits and concepts we studied and to be able to ask questions whenever I had them. This greatly increased the amount I was able to learn.” ~Anna


Waterfall TrailIn a conversation half-way through the semester, Anna told me that she had learned more in the first five weeks of the semester on the bus than she had learned in her entire first year of college!  Her first year had been at a perfectly respectable institution out west; finding the bus program gave her a way to transition somewhere new. As it turned out, the semester was better than she could have imagined and she walked away an incredibly confident, capable, empowered, and self-directed learner and leader.


Bruce Lindwall, one of our dedicated faculty, has been saying for some years that engaging in a year on the bus could be the best first year of college for many a student. This model is holistic and transformative in addition to being experiential and outdoors and all about becoming engaged and active environmental citizens of the world.


Following are a few of the actions the students are planning to take.

Ian:
  •   To deepen community…host weekly dinners…giving sustenance to my body through calories and my soul through conversations.
  • I will continue to question the assumptions, ideologies, and narratives that dominate my home culture…
  • As I’ve learned from experiential education, one of the best ways to learn about leadership is by doing it. I will seek out opportunities for leadership and attempt to put to use the lessons I have learned.
Anna:
  • I will leap into new experiences and say yes to trying things even if they scare me or make me uncomfortable. Before going on the bus, I never would have gone on the bus, but I did it anyway and clearly it was the best decision I could have made.
  • I am going to follow through with my curiosities, not letting them end with just wondering,…
  • I will use electronics a lot less than I used to… I will suggest to my friends that we create a plan for using phones less when we are spending time together.
  • I will make a strong effort to get involved in social justice groups on campus and in the area.
Tim:
  • I plan on studying sustainable design…. I believe now that my purpose is to help change the way humans live in this world.
  • I plan on deepening my connection to the natural world by spending more time outside. I do not want to fall into the habit of being inside all day.
  • …continue to develop as a learner and a leader through keeping a journal, learning from other people’s experiences, and by taking action on issues that matter to me.

The semester was a deeply transformative and highly engaging one, as we can see from this small glimpse into the learning and living on the bus according to Ian, Anna, and Tim.  Thanks to all three for their willingness to have their words shared and for their thoughtful reflections and impassioned plans for the future.