Monday, November 3, 2008

statement of purpose -part one

Christina Fisher

November 4, 2008

Statement of Purpose: Part One

In the field of Interdisciplinary Studies, I am self-designing a program that merges the concept of environmental stewardship with the social and emotional growth of our young people. In 2000, I began my study in the field of Interior Design. I planned to design rooms ergonomically fit for small children. I had been a child care provider from a middle school age. In working with small children, I actively studied phases of developmental growth and tools by which to best facilitate that growth and learning in early childhood. I soon realized that a lot of struggles that young children dealt with the fact that they are very small in a big world. Preschool aged children can often learn to accomplish tasks mentally before they may so easily do them physically. In many situations, adjustments of chair height and ease of access to move from room to room as well as the ability to reach their own things gives them the confidence to explore beginning skills in areas earlier than if they to have constant help.

I originally thought that in would spend my life as a care giver because of all the wonderful things that little ones have to offer. However, in realizing the growing need for child friendly furniture and organization, I felt that an interior design degree would allow me the access to better achieve my ultimate goal of aiding in the development of the children. As I studied design, I also took classes in several other disciplines that I felt would help my future in the field. As I got further in my degree program I realized that the classes I liked the most and I felt satisfied my general goals, would only be a small niche in the design field, but seemed to come together for something that I was not quite sure at that time.

I have completed minors in sociology and art, which helped me see deeper into the roots of why children learn the way they do, what stands in their way, and a myriad of possibilities to facilitate better family communications and household needs with an approach that can hold their attention. At that time, as well, I was learning about issues in our society at large that were beginning to emerge.

By 2005, I felt that I needed time to reflect on what I was actually going to do. I felt further away from basic interior design goals and more focused on social issues at hand. Beyond the social or abstract areas I had studied, my interior design programmed classes addressed such a wide variety of skills that I was accepted into the Peace Corps. I was either going to work in Asia on a water and sanitation project or to work in Africa to help patients with AIDS. I was excited, because my program had led me to that path. However, my department head and advisor felt that it took me away from their goals for their graduates and that I no longer had the “heart for interior design”. I was stunned because I thought that they would be proud that I was taught such a range of things through them that allowed me to come to this point.

I did not that year go away to Asia or Africa, but I knew then that I obviously was looking at a much broader picture than I would be allowed to piece together as a basic interior designer. I left school to explore opportunities at home, the first of which was a trip to help rebuild a convent school in Mexico. On that trip, I learned much more than how to paint a classroom. I actually learned about the unique approach that nuns in this area were using to teach Spanish to the indigenous Tarahumara people of the mountains of Chihuahua, so that they could work certain trades as opposed to begging from tourists. Also I took note that the reason the people needed this help was that the drought they experienced, left them with nothing in their fields but licorice which is obviously not going to sustain a mainly agricultural society.

About a month after I came back from that trip, hoping and praying for those people to get rain, the rains did come. Unfortunately our prayers must not have been quite specific enough because where the rain fell was in Mississippi and Louisiana. Hurricane Katrina hit hard that fall and because of my interim of unemployment, I was able to be deployed with the Red Cross to help. Still having my college experiences fresh on my mind, with my use of Spanish and sign language I was able to help in ways I could never have expected. More than food or money, the people just needed compassion, because they were simply never given the tools to handle such a situation.

I started again piecing my experiences and my education together, this time realizing how much I felt the need for incorporation of my knowledge on basic geology and sustainability of our lands. Even after my return, my experience as a nanny for a family whose home in Florida was demolished by Hurricane Dennis made me realize even more that one of the biggest needs for our growing children at this time is rooted in our ecological state.

From the years of 2005 through 2007, I worked as a nanny, but constantly dealt with issues involving weather changes and our need for changes in our cultural climate of complacency. I was able to assist children from ages 1 to 9, not only by ‘babysitting them’ but engaging them in more healthful activities that encouraged them to be conscious of other people and respectful for what they had. In very nontraditional ways, including art projects from collected materials, and with their families, teaching them to take care of the toys they had so that they last longer, and to give away instead of throw away things they no longer needed or wanted. I got into recycling furniture and clothing for children and was able to create a small network of people who all traded toys and clothes which saved many people a lot of money, but also helped keep things out of landfills and gave the children a sense of pride in doing one act of kindness that would help in so many ways.

Because of the results I saw in the clothes recycling projects and work to help limit chemicals in the children’s foods and homes. I saw its importance for their social and emotional growth. I caught an ‘eco-bug’. I recognized a growing interest in parents of young children to participate in environmental activities, not just for their children’s own health but also to save money in this economy. Elements of functional clean design fit for children coupled with more energetic attitudes that empower them through art, dancing, and just being silly, can create not just fun learning environments, but can help them to be healthier in body and spirit. I have come back to Appalachian State to become more informed in my social and ecological efforts. I want to learn more inventive ways to utilize that which I have already learned, with a more refined touch that will give me the tools to be more effective in my endeavor.

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