The Reflections Unit
Who am I?
The goal of this unit was to decide the question: Who am I? In English, we wrote a personal essay, we recorded it in Digital Media, and in Design we made paintings and collages. I learned a lot about who I was, and what my values are.
I wrote this essay because I have a garden, which is very important to me. It helped me become closer to nature and to my family. I had a lot of fun and good memories making it, and felt it would be a good topic for an essay about me. I think it says a lot about me and what I valued in only a few words.
Bright and saturated, colors have always made me happy. The yellows and reds in the tomato I hold in my tiny hands bring a smile to my face. I had grown this plant from a tiny seed given to each student by the teacher, and now my mother had cut the first anxiously waited for ripe tomato off the stalk and handed it to me. Later that year, we moved to a new house in California, a smaller one, and the colors in this memory faded. My new backyard was coated in a blanket of shade, cast by a redwood tree, and as the years passed, my family and I grew further apart as we got busier with our own lives. Then, as the tree was cut down eight years later, a thought hit me. I knew it, I wanted a garden again.
I planned and planned the layout of what I’d do, changing it a half dozen times. I pored over which plants to choose, in what formation, in what soil. I carefully researched it all. Finding out what happens behind the scenes of farming only fueled the fire of me wanting to control my own food. The more I learned about eat different plant the more I wanted to know, branching questions formed in my mind, a curiosity that couldn’t be satiated. I loved learning about all these plants, and what kind of soil to put them in. I found that our city had a municipal compost pile, and I could buy some add-ins for healthy soil instead of buying it all pre-made. The components would increase the porosity so that the garden could retain moisture and nutrients: an important factor in drought-ridden California. Each fact I learned sowed a seed of appreciation for nature into my heart. Finally, I had the plan drawn up, and I couldn’t wait to realize it.
I had done the plans all myself, but I went over to my parents and timidly asked them to help me put it all together. We hadn’t had a big family project like this in a long time, but this time they agreed that we could do it together. We drove to the hardware store together, me telling them of my grand plans on the way there, them showing me where I could make it better. My mother and I went later to pick up compost from the city, working together under the beating sun to load the car with it. It was hard work, but together, the time passed fast as she told me about how our grandmother, so far away in Russia, had her own garden too. She told me about how their garden when she was a child was so far that she and her mother would have to take the bus to get there, but she didn’t mind because she loved how close she felt to her mother, growing produce with her. It felt like a bridge between us, me being an American-born girl in the 21st century, and her coming from 40 years back, an ocean away. We drove home, ready to finish the project.
As the three of us worked finishing up the last of the garden, my parents began to share more stories from their childhoods, and of all the plants they had grown so many years ago. Of my fathers strawberries – never ripe as his mother used them only for jam, and of the time he managed to gorge himself when his mother forgot about one of the bushes. My mother told me of the cucumbers, completely different in flavor from anything sold here in the supermarkets. My parents sat down on the stump of the redwood tree as I picked up the last of the plants, only a foot or so high at this point. I planted the last tomato into the rich, soft, black soil. I connected to nature, but I also got the chance to connect with my family again. I stood up and shook the earth off my hands. I can’t wait for these plants to grow. This year, I think I’ll give my mom the first of the harvest.
In digital media, we also had to make a video on something we had a perspective on. I chose to do it on the school wi-fi, frustrated because it hadn’t been working for me that day. We recorded a quick rant and used After Effects to make a video describing it.
In design, we created a collage filled with pieces from magazines that we liked. We did a shape-painting using shapes from it, and a digital collage.