I grip the rope tightly with both hands. I look down, eyes moving over my hands and stopping briefly to consider the strange new calluses at the base of my fingers. I look back up and meet the eyes of the rock wall instructor. He stares back at me expectantly, waiting. I know what to do, I know I need to pull the rope down with my left hand and up to the right with my other hand at the same time, then lock the rope in place with a quick downward jerk, then rapidly move my left hand under my right so I can shift my right hand back into place. I’ve practiced the move a dozen times at least in the last ten minutes.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Monday, July 7, 2014
One of the most amazing things about this particular research project is that this is the very first year a group has been sought out and tasked with gathering information on this particular watershed. Additionally, all of us are from different backgrounds and studying different things, but we all share an interest in using our knowledge to improve the environment.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Hello again, this is Peng Vang and through the first three weeks so far, the experiences of researching for this program have been tremendous. I have been learning new work from my partner and also my professor from doing this program. I was amazed by all the work that was given to me for this project. However, the adventure of collecting data from our water samples from Tainter and Lake Menomin, also the two rivers, Hay and Red Cedar. While analyzing the data, it was surprising to find the different amount that are within certain parts of the water. From all the learning within the Biology and Chemistry department, it was a learning process of refreshing my mind on previous work and new work that had to be learned. Overall, it is a new experience staying here and learning new equipment for scientific uses.
Like most individuals, I dream of changing the world. My mother loves to tell the story of when I was little and people would ask me what I wanted to do. I'd smile and say, "I want to make the world a better place." She would then prompt me further asking how and what I would do differently. Each time she'd say, "Well, the world is a big place and many people have tried to change it, what will make your effort different?" This really got me thinking. What was I going to do to change things? What about all the people that had "failed" before me? How was I going to have an impact?
"Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have." ~Margaret Mead
When asked if I could change the world as a young researcher, my first instinct was to say, “No, maybe in a few years…after graduate school and more years of experience.” But my experiences with researching speak otherwise. Research has always appealed to me because the discoveries never end. There is always another angle, geographic location, cultural influence, etc. can influence a completely different story. And to me, the sharing of those stories through the collection and analysis of data is just the first step toward change. I do research because I want to see it make a tangible transformation in the way we interact with our environment.
When I am asked if I think I can change the world with research and if research is still valuable, I automatically think back to my field work and research in New Zealand. We were assigned a field exercise that required us to map out land use around and vegetation within an estuary. All of us experienced a bit of frustration while doing this, especially the non-ecologists among us (*cough* me *cough*). Many of us became fed up with concentrating on the small details and started discarding them. We started relying on pre-existing data to make our maps instead of using the knowledge gained ourselves in the field. That's when our field leader said,
"How can you expect to make a map of the world if you're never in it?"