At Chewonki it feels like the future is something that is always being talked about. From the master plan of changing a few things at Chewonki like cabin setup or size of the farm to the idea of a better future using sustainable resources. Even though these type of things are an everyday conversation it seems like people are also scared of the future, specifically the thought of leaving in only a few months. For some people this is a very scary idea, leaving what is now your home for something completely different, it’s a lot like the first day of the semester when people where leaving their home state or home town to come to Wiscasset and live with 41 other people they didn’t know.
For me, I’m excited, not of leaving but of a new experience. I’m always looking forward to moving to a new place and creating new memories, I get bored after staying in one place for too long, not to say that I’m bored here. There seems to always be something exciting happening from OAP to farm chores, the list is endless. Though I wonder if in the future, 5, 10, 20 years down the road if I will feel the same way. Will I still have this extreme wanderlust and passion for exciting experiences? Before solos we did a short activity where we all wrote letters to ourselves for after solos, or even later in life, I decided to take this time to write about what I thought of letters written to yourself.
To write a letter to yourself is strangely similar to time travel. It might not be all fancy and electronic with flashing buttons and whirring engines like most image time travel to be. It’s simple yet wonderful. The beauty is anyone can do it. There’s no deed for a doctorate from an Ivy League school with an expensive name. No blue prints required, no DIY informational video needed for instructions. The only equipment needed for this type of dimensional shift is a simple pen, or pencil if that’s more your style, and a pad of paper. A good imagination makes the experience better but that’s not required.
It’s funny to think that a future version of yourself will read this letter, pondering over old memories. Decoding the chicken scratch that was your old handwriting. Who knows what could be going on in your life in that amount of time, your views could have completely changed from what they had been. I know mine have changed in just this short amount of time at Chewonki, I used to not care really where my food came from or how I got it as long as it tasted good, but now learning more about local agriculture I think I’ll be a little more hesitant to accept a burger from any old chain restaurant. My view on human’s relationship with nature has also changed here, mostly from the books I’ve read and the effect we have already had on the planet as a race. From the receding glaciers to the countless amounts of trash buried in the ground or floating in the sea.
Besides environmental awareness I think one of the most important things I learned here and will hopefully keep learning is about life, I have learned so much about what goes into our food to keep us alive and well. I have helped in slaughtering turkeys for food, something most people would never do, even though they are happy to sit down on thanksgiving and gorge on a plump, usually GMO’ed turkey. The way someone learns about life is through experience which is something Chewonki does very well, it puts you into these amazing situations and lets you find your own way of cherishing them and taking lessons learned from them into your life after you leave. Like living in a cabin with 4 or 6 other people, depending on the size of the cabin, or being away from your home, or even just today the French students went to lunch with the Franco American association in Lewiston. We only had one or two other students at a table with you talking to people who grew up speaking French and it was a great experience to put yourself out there and talk with these people because they have great stories and were just as shy to speak French as we were. Chewonki also gives you this amazing experience to be with nature and see how she works, see the beauty in the trees and flowers and spend enough time to actually know the world and how it works. I think one of the things I won’t forget when I leave in the future is that, life isn’t explained in texts found lurking in the inner workings of the school system. Life is out there, in the swaying trees blown by a strong breeze. In the delicate flowers rising up throw the snow of a late spring storm. The meaning of life isn’t something that can be taught, it must be learned.
-Cris Paradis, North Yarmouth Academy, ME