Through this semester I have benefited on having to go to enjoy, evaluate and learn about nature. I have learned a lot with this assignments,  until this point I had never stopped and appreciate places like Town Lake in Austin, Beijing in China, and  Central Park in New York City. Not only have I been able to learn how to appreciate things such as trees, birds, lakes and the variety of colors through the change of seasons, but I also learned how fortunate we are in this country to have clean air to breathe. Besides being able to spend time outdoors,interacting with nature, the main thing that I have enjoyed the most about this activity is that I was able to do all three of my blogs on three complete different places. I think it is very important to visit distinct places and spend some time outdoors to appreciate what that place has to offer. My experience was complete different in all three places I visited and I enjoyed the contrast and the different experience I had in each city.

After carefully looking at the word cloud of the class, the words that popped out the most for me were trees, water and nature. I was expecting the word nature to be one of the most used because the assignment is based on our interaction with nature. I was also expecting the word tree because in all of the places I visited for my blogs there were trees. So I guess in most of the places the rest of the class went there were also a lot of trees. Trees were one the things I noticed more in when I spent time outdoors. When I did my first blog, I went to Town Lake, where trees were very green and with lots of leafs. For my second blog, I did it based on my visit to China. I decided to do it about the city of Beijing, because it surprised me how polluted it was. In this city I was not able to notice as many trees, which I believe has to be a contribution to the terrible pollution. Lastly, for my last blog I went to Central Park, we were in the midst of fall and this was shown by the different colors of the leaves, which were beautiful. Also, the trees looked big and old but also extremely healthy and beautiful, transmitting a feeling of serenity. Another word that was brought to my attention was the word beautiful. I think this assignment made all of the class create a whole new different image about the environment. I usually go outside and do not stop for one second to appreciate the environment that surrounds me, I just take everything that is in my environment for granted. This assignment has made me change, stop and look around my surroundings. And I think the same has happened for the rest of the class. Now, I hear birds singing, or the leafs falling and turning colors because of change of seasons, and I am able to have a better appreciation of the environment. I had been in Town Lake many times before this assignment, and it wasn’t until this assignment that I noticed the people working out, walking their dogs, doing picnics or kayaking in the lake, and I realized everything that is there is being enjoyed by people who live in Austin and what I thought was beautiful, is the interaction between all this people and nature. We enjoy being outdoors, therefore we respect the environment and do our best to preserve it. Now, I and probably the rest of my classmates are able to see all the beauty that surrounds us.

Other words that were brought to my attention too, but that were pretty small in the cloud were preserve, friends and peace. I think that these are very important because after all the time we spent outside, I believe we would all agree on how much we enjoyed interacting with nature and learning about it. The only way for this to keep happening is if we take care of the environment and make and effort on preserving it and passing on how to do it. I think that this assignment did not only teach us how to enjoy nature, but also it made us understand that something that we take for granted can go away anytime if we don’t take care of it. The other word was friends, I was with friends all the times I went outdoors to do my blogs, and I believe enjoying nature with friends and family is the best way to do it. When I went to Town Lake, I went with a friend to walk her dog, and we were teaching him how to act around other dogs and how to swim. When I went to Beijing, one of my good friends came along, and it made the experience unforgettable. Lastly, walking around Central Park with one of my best friends who was also enjoying the beautiful sight made it perfect. Through this assignment I was able to learn and enjoy nature but also make memories with my friends that I will cherish for ever. Lastly another word that I though was very important but was small in the cloud was peace. I believe this word is relevant because one of the feelings that I enjoyed the most at Town Lake and Central Park, was peace. I felt relaxed and was able to clear my mind for the entire time I decided to enjoy nature. In Beijing I was not able to have any peace because the air was so polluted. So, not only was I able to feel peace in the other two places I went, but also gratitude for the clean air I was being able to breathe.

“A conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke [of the axe] he is writing his signature on the face of the land.” 
― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac 

I chose this quote because we have to realize that with every action we do, we are affecting the environment positively or negative. After doing these blogs for three months I learned of a new way on how to enjoy and interact with the environment. I understood that we are lucky to have trees, lakes, animals and beautiful spaces to enjoy ourselves. I also understood that it is our responsibility to protect this environment in order to preserve it. So we need to make sure that every one of our actions benefits the environment and nature instead of hurting it. I am very grateful about the outcomes of this assignment and the positive teachings  I got from it.

Thank you, Dr. Wasserman.

Valeria Rodriguez

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