Reflections on Oxford – A Year LaterOxford, Fall 2009
When asked to provide a post about how study abroad has changed my life, I doubted it had. As a student who already spent a few years living abroad, independently and in non-English speaking countries, I didn’t think England had really changed me. After some thought, I realized it has.
From the classroom, to job pursuits, to athletics, hobbies and general lifestyle, my current trajectory can be traced back to Oxford and my experiences studying abroad. Now in my senior year of college, I’m looking down the road for opportunities after graduation. One idea is to get a Watson Fellowship, which would allow me to lead a project of my choice in the place of my choice. Having taken a bike trip around the UK and Ireland prior to commencing studies with IES, I knew cycle touring is the best way to travel, hands down. As such, my Watson Fellowship, should I receive the honor, will be based on a pedaling journey around Latin and South America, visiting indigenous communities to sponsor traditional sports and games. I believe healthy individuals create healthy communities, and as I learn about local athletics, I would share the beauty of the bike and lead workshops on the bicycle as a means of transportation, recreation and empowerment.
Along similar lines of healthy lifestyles, I’ve carried the momentum from my marathon I ran in northern Wales all the way to Louisville, Kentucky, where I competed in the 2010 Louisville Ironman on August 29. A 140.6 mile triathlon that finishes with a full marathon as the run leg, it’s a grueling journey. As I scrambled across the sheep poo-covered fields of Snowdonia National Park I realized I could complete whatever athletic event I wanted. As a part of my race preparation, I conducted a fundraiser for the Minneapolis American Indian Center’s Healthy Nations Canoe Program and collected over $8,000. We used part of this money to lead a canoe trip down the Mne Sose – Dakota for Missouri River – in August. We focused on attaining a greater level of cultural sustainability and reconnecting Dakota and Lakota people with their ancestral homelands. I can’t pretend that my class on Economics of Global Governance at Oxford didn’t help me appreciate the factors that play into these equations of conquest, exploitation and the fallacy of choice between economy and environment.
Professor Tamas Barret-David, former World Bank economist and Oxford tutor, schooled me on the three realms of sustainability: social/cultural, environmental and economic. Without one, the other two can’t exist, and neither can we. The principles we covered in this course have become the foundation of the work I do in and out of the classroom, and also form the backbone of the work I will pursue after graduation. Prior to the Watson Fellowship, I plan to work on a youth employment program called the Mother of Waters Project, which will provide Twin Cities youth with a chance to experience the outdoors and write about them. We will publish a book of their writings, describing the state of Minnesota’s waters and the steps we need to take to cure them, and share it downstream. This will provide a model of stewardship that’s lacking all along the great Mississippi, and beyond.
These are just a few of the ways I’ve nurtured the seeds planted while studying abroad and have found myself with bountiful opportunities. I’m thankful for the opportunity to leave my home university and experience another location, and appreciate your interest in my progress one year later. Thanks for reading and don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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