What is more Chewonki than writing about the complex metaphor of sheep shearing? The answer is nothing. Therefore, I am going to humor you all and discuss what sheep shearing truly means. Just fifteen minutes ago, I watched as a very talented shearer transformed two balls of hay-covered fleece into a pair of beautiful sheep. The process wasn’t what I expected it to be, though. Up until then I had thought sheep shearing was only as hard as shaving my legs after a couple months, however, this was not the case.
First, one must bring the sheep over to the platform where it will be shorn. Apprehensively it walks over, and when it arrives, the shearer must hold the sheep a certain way so that it is obliged to comply. Then, the shearer clips its hooves and begins the actual shearing. The first place shorn is the stomach and from there, the shearer moves onto the rest of the body. Throughout the course of the next couple minutes, the sheep is put in awkward positions, getting used to each one, getting a bit more relaxed as the time goes by. Finally, the shearing is over. You look to see what has been hiding under that 10 -pound fleece. There lies a beautiful animal that has been relieved of the extra weight it has been carrying around. The sheep, is given some care, and then brought back to the pen.
I bet you can probably see where this metaphor is going but I am going to write it anyway. At Chewonki we are going through this same process. We too nervously left the comfort of our homes to go to a foreign place. When we arrived, we were forced to change our ways. Some of us had to alter our 7:30 am wake up to a wonderful 6:30 am one instead, and almost all of us had to get used to living life without a phone. We were all obliged to alter our habits and routines for the experience, just as the sheep has to do the same in order to be shorn. Next, is the actual shearing part of our experience. As the sheep was forced into awkward positions, we were forced into awkward situations. For example, we had to figure out how to live with a bunch of strangers. However, just as the sheep settled into the uncomfortable circumstances, we learned how to be okay with telling someone that their stuff was all over the place or that they need to shut up because its 2 in the morning. Right now, we are still in the shearing phase. There will most likely be many more situations that make us uncomfortable, however, I know that all of us here will be able to adapt.
Finally, although I can only guess, I have a feeling that when Chewonki is over it will be much like when the shearing is finished. I will go back to my home like the sheep goes back to its pen. After the months here I hope that when I return back to my home, I will have taken off the fleece that has covered me for so long and will have found out who has been hiding under there. I think I will be able to look back at all the times where I was forced to adjust and be grateful, because just as the sheep is better off once it has been shorn, I know I will be better off once I have left this place.
-Julia, Newark Academy, NJ