Major: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Maui, HI
I looked down at the assignment handout: “Teach the class how to do something, speaking only in Español…be creative!” Hmmm, what to do? I turned to my friend Nikki to brainstorm…
A week later we had our script in hand. Our backpacks, tent, water bottles, Cliff bars, camping cook kit, flashlights, raingear, topographic map and first aid kit spread across a table as we prepared to film our video, “Para ir de acampar” (“How to go camping”). We had decided on a common passion that we shared, backpacking, and had chosen to teach our Spanish II class how to go about this activity. We began to film, explaining how to pick a backpacking route and what to bring. Then, loading up our packs we headed outside. We tramped through the December snow to the edge of campus.
The weather was overcast and cold. Nikki, being a hardcore Alaskan, didn’t seem fazed by the threatening snow flurries. Myself, however, used to the more temperate climate of Hawai’i, shivered in this foreign wintery landscape. Nevertheless, we pressed on. Soon we were explaining how to set up a tent, fumbling as our cold and clumsy hands struggled to thread the poles through their tent-sleeves. Finally, we managed to get the tent up, just as the flurrying snow decided to reach a crescendo, the wind began to blow, and the temperature seemed to plummet. “Mucho nieve! (Much snow!)” I exclaimed, “Si, y es un poco de frio (Yes, and it’s a bit cold)” replied the cheerful Alaskan. As I prepared to hang our “bear bag” in a nearby bush, I turned to see a large ten-point buck approach our “camp.” He boldly walked right next to our tent before disappearing into the brush.
“Wow! Did you see that?! Did we get that on film?!” I excitedly called, forgetting all Spanish dialogue. That was another thing I was still getting used to, the multitude of deer that freely roam Fort Lewis campus. Nikki, probably accustomed to more remarkable animals such as moose and grizzlies, laughed. It turns out that we did get the buck in our video, and Nikki would soon be identified as the “deer girl” to my family back in Hawai’i who later saw the movie.
In the final scene of our educational film, we crawled into the tent to demonstrate how to unroll a sleeping bag, stay hydrated, and eat beef jerky. “Es importante beber mucha agua (It’s important to drink plenty of water),” Nikki explained. “Si, y comer alimentos para la fuerza (Yes, and eat food for strength)” I agreed.
All done, we quickly stuffed our gear into our packs and made a bee-line inside to escape the life-threatening-freezing temperatures and snowy blizzard (well, that was my view of the weather at least!).
This was one of the most dynamic (and cold) assignments that I’ve had here at Fort Lewis. It was refreshing to put lessons learned in the classroom into practice. Many of my other classes here at Fort Lewis have also taken me out on field trips and have creatively engaged me to move beyond the textbook through hands-on assignments. For me, this adds an active and interesting level to my education.