Nature has acted as a mentor in my life by helping me understand that I should tackle my problems one by one, find happiness in the little things and that fostering a community is more important than competition. Animals don’t try to take on everything at once. If they are hungry, they hunt for prey. If they sense a threat, they are alert at that moment. They don’t try to do everything all at once every waking moment of their lives. They won’t spend their time worrying about something that’s not happening in that moment and neither should I. I should take things slowly and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. I learned this one from my own dogs who express joy or sadness or exhaustion whenever they want. They don’t try to control their emotions or put on a front. If they don’t want something, they’ll express it with their actions and expressions. And when they do want something or are happy about something, they wag their tails excitedly, even if it’s a small seemingly insignificant thing that’s making them happy. Finally, animals work together to get things done. The bee communities or ant colonies work as a group instead of competing. So should we.
For me, the most applicable principle of life is the ability to adapt to changing conditions. This means “incorporating diversity,” “maintaining integrity through self-renewal,” and “embodying resilience through variation, redundancy, and decentralization.” Life isn’t always going to go as planned and most of the time, we won’t have control over what happens. To be able to ride the waves and maneuver around the obstacles, adaptability is essential. I need to be open-minded about my diverse options and accept defeat when necessary. But it’s important to note that accepting defeat does not equate to giving up. To be adaptable means accepting defeat but also looking for different ways to make it work. In my Safe Motherhood project, for instance, we will eventually have to develop a narrative of the story our documentary will tell. Sticking to this single narrative would be ideal and make our work easy but as we go out into the field and talk to different experts to get different perspectives, our narrative will have to change. The story will constantly evolve as we find new information in our research and it’s important to be open to this new information.
If I were to describe the cradle to cradle design in one word, I would choose “connectedness.” Everyone is connected in the circle of life and I can incorporate that into my project by connecting my research. Instead of looking at our team’s research topics/pillars as separate entities, we can use information from one pillar and connect it to a different pillar. There is a saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and in this case, if I find something that seems irrelevant in my research, I could recycle it and see if I can use it in another research topic. To be specific, in my Global Capitalism course, I learned about the resource curse and the Dutch disease which I thought wouldn’t serve me any good outside of the classroom but when I learned that the Sierra Leone economy is heavily reliant on the diamond industry, I realized that I can connect what I learned in my class to my research in Sierra Leone to see how these concepts contribute to the high maternal mortality rate.
Everyone learns something new every day and since coming to the east coast for college, the types of friends I made changed since high school, and I learned several new concepts that were somewhat of a cultural shock. One of my friends calls his parents by their first name and this pretty mindblowing because I was raised in an environment where respecting your elders was a huge part of my core values so to be on a first name basis with parents was weird. Another thing I learned from my friends was that their parents permitted them to drink despite being underage, whereas if I drank, my family would probably freak out. Lastly, my friends have a very ambitious and passionate attitude towards leaving an impact during their lifetime. When I asked them if they would rather die painlessly right now or live to 90 and be in incredible pain with failing organs, they chose the latter and I chose the former. It might just be me being the anomaly but it was interesting to see different perspectives.