This week I learned a lot about marine biology and sustainable agricultural practices. Even more so, having ventured out of campus and traveled across California, I got to see the economics disparities between areas like Watsonville and Carmel. I learned about ways local governments can intervene and provide aid in the form of vouchers to low-income mothers of small children in WIC, and that there people working to ensure that no family subsists on saturated fats bought at cheaper, local drug stores.
My biggest takeaways from the trip are probably the following: to NEVER leave bags hanging around the ocean because leather-back turtles mistake them for jellyfish, which they then eat and die. I also got to observe how fresh farmer markets truly foster community growth and can be a healthy, affordable option for many middle-income families.
It is difficult for me to choose my favorite experience because there are so many, but if I had to pin down one it would probably be the Seder. To me that dinner represented how close our group had gotten over the past week, whether it be through cooking together, staying up late telling jokes, or writing letters during nap times =) It meant so much for me to share a tradition that is usually observed with family members with a new group of people I had never imagined getting so close to.
Other great moments include: kayaking down Elkhorn Slough with Aliza and spotting flotillas of baby otters doing flips with their mom and, of course, picking strawberries in ALBA!!!! I also really enjoyed hearing about the projects Pajaros High School students were working on and getting to connect with them over things like the college admission process, which we were all once fearful of and excited about.
I think this class made me a lot more aware and conscious about how my lifestyle decisions affect not only my health but also the health of my surrounding environments. My biggest hope is to take my trip leader’s commitment to healthy food, reflective and insightful dinner conversations, and long hikes in many of California’s BEAUTIFUL natural parks and integrate them in my busy life at Stanford. In other words, to enjoy life and all that is offers to the fullest and take care of our environment, considering all that it does for us both in terms of leisure and resources. Here are some group pictures to enjoy: Maria and I at ALBA, the beautiful scenery of Point Lobos, and jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.