Walking through the trees, I follow some of my classmates and English teacher on a narrow path towards Blueberry Hill. I look up and see sunlight filtering in through the branches. The rays come through the leaves and you can barely make out tiny pieces of dust floating, illuminated by the light. The only sound I hear is the shuffling of dirt under feet and the occasional woodpecker in the trees that surround me. At the beginning of September, it is still pretty warm, and we can walk without being weighed down by many layers. As we wander through the trees, we encounter an art class sitting and drawing what they see, and a student going on a walk with her advisor. It’s all very quiet and easy to forget that there is anyone but these ten people and the trees all around us.
It is about three in the afternoon, and the first day of classes is just drawing to a close. The single file line of my eight peers walking in silence behind my English teacher Amy stops. She points to a log lying on the ground. We are writing about whether we can define the log as part of nature or not.
While this may seem like a simple question, there are actually many different parts I can think about that go into it. This is a piece of a tree, which would lead many to believe that therefore it is part of nature. However, if it is a log that means that a human cut it down. Does that mean that that human interaction changed it from its “natural” state? Or is everything we do as humans, who are a part of nature, an extension of nature?
This is a huge change for many of us from a more traditional English class. I know that for me, I have never gone on a walk through the woods with my English teacher. Instead of sitting in class and highlighting a text and then answering questions about it, we are walking through nature. This is definitely the best classroom I have ever had an English class held in. While we come from all over the world, like me from California, my cabin mate from New York, or my classmate from New Zealand, and while we may not connect on every issue or have similar ideas about everything, I know that we are all appreciating the chance we have gotten to be in such a beautiful place.
– Tova, Berkeley High School, CA