Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rozalia Project Intern Blog: An English Lit major taking action

Today's intern blog is from Kaleigh Wilson, English Literature major at Roger Williams. Kaleigh gives us a different perspective than our science majors and kicks it off with some Tolkien...

In 1931, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote the following lines as a small portion of his grander poem entitled “Mythopoeia”:
The movements of the sea, the wind in boughs,
green grass, the large slow oddity of cows,
 thunder and lightning, birds that wheel and cry,
slime crawling up from mud to live and die,
these each are duly registered and print
the brain's contortions with a separate dint.

There exists a common yet unique understanding of the elements within our natural world amongst most humans, as Tolkien states. For me, this understanding takes on another dimension in which I feel a distinct connection to each one of these elements. I envy the cormorant and exchange patience with the trees. The ocean challenges me, and I am a grain within the sand. Growing up in a log cabin in the woods with a rural, ten minute walk to the shore must be the basis for this environmental bond, but I did not always know that truth. 

As I made my way about the outside world, it became vaguely apparent to me that this deep-seated coexistence that dominated my perspective was not entirely universal. A plastic cup crashed amongst the waves on Fire Island. A clear plastic shopping bag floated beside me at my favorite spot on Cedar Beach. An old cellophane balloon hung from the branches of the oldest oak tree in my neighborhood. It was confusing at first—this entanglement of the natural and the unnatural. 

When choosing a college to study at, I was naturally, and unconsciously, drawn to Roger Williams University: a liberal arts school with a rural, bayside campus. Two years later and halfway to a degree of some sort, I decided what my major would be—English Literature. It was a strange decision. I am not a diehard reader. I do not have a bountiful collection of my favorite works by my favorite authors. Now, though, two years later, I understand why I really chose it. 
The rule of thumb within my major, as I interpret it to be, is this: it is not always important what you are looking at, but how you are looking at it. It does not matter that The Iliad is an 800 page text about humans, gods, goddesses, and the Trojan War that occurred over 3,000 years ago, but it does matter that it is read with a clear knowledge of ancient Greek culture and custom in order to realize which concrete events translate to abstract significances. This analytical process that I learned during academic study allowed me, and continues to allow me, to understand our world today. 
Like Tolkien writes, we all know what the environment is—the ocean, the fish, the trees—but our world is bereft of a general understanding of how we are to interact with it. For me and many others it is an innate respect. For some it is a learned appreciation. I like to think that for the remainder of people it is simply a blank void. Enter Rozalia Project. 

My participation in Rozalia Project’s mission for a clean ocean is my duty. While I have been part of beach cleanups at home and organized a shore cleanup on RWU’s campus, I have never done my part on a large scale from the water itself. Although I have shared my strong environmental feelings with my peers, I have never educated groups of open-minded individuals on the motives and methods towards a clean ocean. I am proud and eager to say that my time aboard the American Promise will not only teach others how to connect with their natural surroundings on a sublime level, but will further my commitment to our beautiful Earth. 

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, I believe many today actually do not know what our world, our natural environment is. I hope you are able to open up, to others, awareness of the vast beauty of nature during your journeys. Tell the world about the beauty in such a way that they can feel what you see through your eyes. Then maybe more will care about maintaining a litter free environment.
    Bernie Paquette