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What does it take to make a journey?

May 18, 2014

“What does it take to make a journey? A place to start from, something to leave behind. A road, a trail, or a river. Companions, and something like a destination: a camp, an inn, or another shore. We might imagine a journey with no destination, nothing but the act of going, and with never an arrival. But I think we would always hope to find something or someone, however unexpected and unprepared for. Seen from a distance or taken part in, all journeys may be the same, and we arrive exactly where we are.” ~ John Haines, Moments and Journeys

This group of Shaw bears will forever remember their coastal exploration. From Left to right: Dr. Eric Butler, Mera, Mariam, Brittany (sitting in front), James, Michaela, Shaliek, Tamira.

This group of Shaw bears will forever remember their coastal exploration. From Left to right: Dr. Eric Butler, Mera, Mariam, Brittany (sitting in front), James, Michaela, Shaliek, Tamira.

Our Coastal Exploration journey has taken us from Shaw University in the bustling city of Raleigh, NC, through several of our natural areas in the coastal plain of North Carolina.

We left behind our dorm rooms and families, and our assumptions and misperceptions about the unknown world of camping and long days outside. We’ve traveled by roads, by trails (both man-made, and bear-made), and by rivers. Our new companions and working groups became our teammates that we depended upon this past week. Our destination might have been a platform above the water, the distant dock and shore of the Roanoke, a path through the maritime forest, or a tent we set up ourselves. While we searched for plants and animals in new habitats (floodplain swamps, pocosins, barrier islands), we found we learned things about ourselves as well. We traded in our assumptions for experiences and first-hand knowledge.

We observed the world around us with our eyes (seeing the Big Dipper for the first time!), our nose (smelling the scent markings of a red wolf telling you the boundaries of his territory), our ears (hearing the melodious trills of prothonotary warblers or raucous hoots of barred owls above our tents), our fingers (touching a crab or a snake for the very first time), and our stomachs (eating delicious food we cooked ourselves each night over an open stove or fire). We challenged ourselves to try new activities and to break stereotypes, to rise to the occasion of re-defining who we are allowed to be. We embraced our curiosity and questioned the way things were in the world around us. We dared to dream of our future careers as something different than we had imagined before. We discovered new people and sometimes the unexpected happened. But everything was part of our journey. We have arrived back home, safe and sound, but not the same people as when we left. As the days and weeks pass, our memories and reflections of our coastal adventure will continue to shape the paths we choose for our future.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Mickey Jo permalink
    May 27, 2014 9:50 am

    I’ve really enjoyed the tales of your travels. Wish I could have been there to see the bears. Lucky you.

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