By working with a learning community I was able to gain the feeling of being in contact with my peers despite covid. While this may seem like a small gain to some, being in class, having a schedule that I am forced to follow, and finding familiar faces on campus is something that I loved last year. I loved that I was able to interact with my peers at least a little bit within this class. It obviously wasn’t as normal as going into class and seeing my peers as well as interacting with them in person, but it was better than staring at a bunch of black screens with usernames on them. In addition to getting to know some peers better than I thought I would have with online class, I was also able to hear the opinions and understand the views of my peers that differed so much from mine. I am someone who loves to know all sides of a story and I like to think that I am good at seeing both sides as well as respecting and fully understanding both sides. It was interesting to me to talk about the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ sides of each story we looked at and it was fun to hear from my peers in class. Lucas in particular was a student who encouraged me greatly with his critical thinking and his questions that engaged the whole class. It was always fun to listen to people so freely share their thoughts and feelings with the class. If I was given more time, to be completely honest, I would take more time to get to know more about my peers. In class normally I would usually make friends with at least a few of my peers and would spend time outside of class getting to know them better. If I was given more time with them I would want to spend time chatting with them, engaging in normal and fun conversations. My group usually ends up off on a tangent and I think that conversing with other students is good for us in this time of zoom and isolation.
There was one thing in this course that stood out to me the most that we learned about, and that was mindfulness. I loved that we learned about mindfulness and practiced it. Mindfulness is something that I was aware of but wasn’t actively practicing in my life. I think that mindfulness is an important practice, especially in the midst of this pandemic. This is a very difficult and very lonely time and online school presented difficult circumstances for all students. This could look different for each student individually and in order for any student or person in general to navigate these times, you have to be mindful. Since learning about mindfulness and practicing in class I have practiced mindfulness many times and tried many different things, including journaling, working out, listening to podcasts, sitting in the sun, and more. Not only that, but I also have taken some practices to the people who surround me. I am a nanny and since being home have spent some time with my nanny family. While doing that I have seen firsthand the negative effects that part time/online school has had on elementary school kids. This time is maybe even more confusing for them than it is for older generations. This confusion puts them on edge, resulting in more meltdowns, attitudes, and outbreaks of anger. I have watched these kids for many years and have noticed a big difference each time I watch them. When realizing what was causing the discomfort for them, I decided to help them become more mindful without them even knowing. We practice breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth when unnecessarily raising our voices, we go outside and take sun/air breaks in between assignments especially when online, we do drawings and coloring to express our feelings, we go on walks to the park, bake, among other things. I have found that mindfulness is important for anyone and everyone and was pleased to be able and learn about it and practice it in class.
This course forced me to become aware of many unsustainable practices that take place and that I partake (or rather partook) in without ever knowing the consequences of these unsustainable things. I really want to further explore fast fashion and throw away culture in order to help understand what I can do as an individual to be more sustainable in that area, but also what the best approach to solve the issue of waste in the fashion industry would be. Along with that, I want to be more aware of the little things that I do each day that are not sustainable and I want to take steps forward to make my everyday life more sustainable. Whether it is reusing cups, using metal or paper straws, shopping at thrift store, or other things. This class taught me how to truly love the earth, respect the earth, and most importantly, take care of it.
I think that within my circle of influence there are a few things that I can do to further influence people around me to become more sustainable. One thing that immediately comes to mind is within one of my extra curricular activities, we have a sustainability club. Now that I am more educated on sustainable practices and better understand the effects that unsustainability has on our earth and will greatly have in our future, I am more aware of the need for more sustainable practices. To be more specific, this particular extracurricular activity is a greek house. Within a greek house I would have many opportunities to change up specific things that are unsustainable. For example, we have styrofoam cups that we use to get water, and instead of those we could start using reusable cups to reduce waste. There are so many other things that could change and that I have the ability to change with the knowledge that I have gained from taking this course.