How my values make me…me.

Opportunity. Pleasure. Belonging. Friendship. Competence. While there were many values on those cards that I believe to be important to me, those listed stand out to me as the pinnacle of what I find that drives me. After discussing with my fellow Honors students about my values and the limitations that they put on my skills, I have come to a conclusion. In order for me to properly work with others to solve a problem, I need to be comfortable. In other words, I need to be confident in not only my own ability, competence, but also in my group members, hence friendship and belonging. If those values are met, I am sure that there will be plenty of opportunities and many times for excitement.

I believe these five values to be an extremely important part of myself and the way I operate on a day to day basis. If one value were to take a back seat, it would be belonging. I am capable of working in an uncomfortable environment, yet I believe that being comfortable with those around you can bring new perspectives that would otherwise be ignored. Else, my other four values are nonnegotiable. I do not think that I would be in a better place by relegating opportunity, pleasure, friendship, and competence into a back seat. That wouldn’t be me.

中国和我

China and me. I believe that the mock negotiation was the epitome of problem solving for the Fall 2014 Honors class. I became so educated in the climate change policy of China that now I feel differently about climate change policy than I did in the past. You know how actors live the life of their character in order to play said character better? That’s how I felt during the negotiations. I wasn’t Alex from New Jersey, but the Delegate from the People’s Republic of China. During said negotiation, we were tasked with producing some sort of protocol that would set the basis for the Paris 2015 negotiations. Needless to say, it was a very unproductive negotiation, given the requirement for consensus for all parties to the conference.

Given that I represented China, I had to represent my country with the utmost force. In other words, my way or the highway. Originally, my plan for the negotiations was to simply disagree with any language that would inhibit China’s growth as a world power. Now here’s where the problem solving comes in. Two days before our scheduled class for the negotiation, China and the United States made a bilateral deal that threw my whole plan out of wack. China was actually doing something to reduce climate change?! Unbelievable! Anyway, I had to make a deal with the Delegate from the United States, Aaron, and alter a protocol that the conference was going to use as a starting point for the negotiations.

Let’s talk about the actual negotiations. Given that I came in with a protocol (and might I add that it was a FAIR protocol), I felt that it was unnecessary to yield in one way or another to other parties to the Conference, and therefore I argued to keep the status quo of the document that the United States and I produced. That was the plan, and I stuck to it throughout the entire process. As I mentioned before, it did not produce results. Yet, I believe that I represented my nation properly. Regardless, I found a problem and attempted to solve said problem. Was it an issue with my solution? I don’t think so. It’s a complication with the UNFCCC structure and its need for consensus. But that’s a blog for another time.

We’re going where?!

Freshmen Service Experience…. It was an experience alright. I actually don’t remember which program I signed up for for FSE. All I can confirm is that I dropped $60.00 to do backbreaking work for two days. Memorable? Definitely, and if I didn’t have to pay for it I’d probably do it again. Anyway, so I was placed in the program for the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture. It’s a cool name. I honestly thought it was a food bank of some sort where they used sustainable food in their food. I was wrong. Turns out we were going to a farm. In Alexandria. We had to take a van there.

The first day probably could not have gone any worse than it did. A few people in our group were late, so we left campus late. Our van was misplaced (it was supposed to be in Katzen but it turned out to be by Hamilton.) We couldn’t even find where this Arcadia place was. We ended up over an hour late to our destination.

So we’re at the farm, wearing jeans in 90 degree weather (SOMEONE told us to wear long pants.) It was hot, it got really dirty, and my arms died within thirty minutes from the hard labor we had to do.

A lot of shovel digging, a lot of hoe hoeing over two days really gets to you.

Despite these hardships, however, I met some really awesome people and learned about a really awesome non-profit organization. The Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture is dedicated to local, sustainably grown food. They grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and not only inform individuals about the importance of sustainable growth, but also spread these products around the DC area.