Once Upon A Time in Appalachia

My project was a service trip through Buck-i-Serv to Maryville, TN where we focused on environmental restoration and helping and learning about the Cherokee Indians. On this trip, I was involved in cleaning the Smokey Mountains and on a Cherokee Reservation, I really got to learn how to and why it is important to care of the environment and about the Cherokee culture. The other aspect of my project was to do photography and for it to aid me in my goals of doing photography as a career.

My trip to Maryville, TN allowed me to change my view of how I see the world. I was able to go to the Smokey Mountains and Snowbird Cherokee Reservation and do a lot of environmental work for a week. Throughout the week I got to learn a lot about myself. I cared about the environment before this trip, but while in the Smokey Mountains I got to meet a lot of people that do so much for the environment every day. This gave me a new appreciation and understanding as to why it is so important to care about the environment everyday. I got to learn ways I can help anywhere I am and this really opened my eyes as to how important it is, especially right now since we live in a world that is really showing the effects of humans and it is so important to try and remedy this.

I also got to help a Cherokee family on the Snowbird Cherokee Reservation with their building project. While driving through the reservation, I really got to see how the Cherokee people live very modest lifestyles. We got to meet with the people and they were happy and kind people, they did not need a lot of materialistic goods to be happy. While they did have goods, it was not anything to the extent that we know American to have today. I am Cherokee so getting to meet with the people and learning more of their customs and ways I got to learn a lot about my heritage. This really taught me a lot about myself and where I come from which made this trip more special to me.

The first relationship that led to the change I had on this trip was with our hosts Ed and Arlene. Ed and Arlene were extremely gracious hosts, they love having college students come in and teaching them their vast knowledge of caring for the environment. Each day we were at their cabins, they taught us something new. For example, they taught us of various invasive species of plants to the area and we spent time pulling them and getting rid of as much as we could around their land and in the Smokey Mountains. They also taught us how to can foods, living with a wood burning stove, of the native animals and how to care for them and not invade their area, and much more. Seeing how they live and hearing what they had to share was a very big component of the change I had in being more environmentally conscious. They were very big influence on me and I greatly appreciate getting to meet them and spend a week with them because it really opened up many new things for me.

Next, the interaction I had with the Cherokee family we helped from Snowbird helped to cause the second change. This change had to do with learning more about my heritage and getting to meet some of the people that are of same descent. I never got the chance before to meet and Cherokee people and see the way they live and this was a great opportunity to be able to experience that and also get to learn more about the culture. We helped the family with their home building project and on our way in we got to see the reservation and the modest lifestyle they lived. I really enjoyed getting to see that way of living. We also got to learn more about the Cherokee past when we met with the librarian and she answered any questions we had, she told us a lot of information we were never taught before. Finally, we learned a traditional Cherokee game that is played when a man wants to marry, it shows the potential wife how he and his friends are so that she knows what her future husband will be like. All of these interactions really taught me a lot about my heritage and made me want to learn more. These interaction caused a big change in me that way because previously I had some interest in knowing about my heritage but after this trip I had more desire to learn about it and try and live in that way more.

The last relationship that really helped me develop the change was with our trip advisor. He already lived a very outdoorsy lifestyle, and while on this trip he taught us more about the importance of experiencing the outdoors and caring for it. I have always really enjoyed being outdoors but after this trip I had more drive to want to spend time outside and care for it. He told of us the adventure he has had and why he believes spending time outside is good for you. It all really resonated with me, I really connected with what he was telling us and wanted to have more adventures like he did. Not for the sake of saying I have done certain things either, I genuinely want to live a more outdoorsy lifestyle so that I have a healthier life and can experience all the world has to offer and give back and care for the issues I see while I am out in the world. I feel very lucky that I got to have him as my trip advisor as he caused a very big change in me.

This change is valuable for my life because it has given me an even bigger appreciation for the world. Prior to this trip, I enjoyed being outdoors some and doing things to help the world, after this trip I really notice the things I can do to help the environment and I also enjoy being outdoors even more and have gone on many more hikes and camping trips since this trip and I play to continue this. This change really affected my personal life more than anything else. As I am more aware of the impact that I have on the world and changes I have made to make my impact smaller. It matters because the world we live in needs more people realizing their impact and making the changes to lessen it. We also live in a society that enjoys staying inside and having material goods. It is important to experience the outside world and go out more and explore, this will make a positive change on our health and view of the world. So, the changes of being more environmentally conscious, wanting to know of my heritage and culture, and spending more time outdoors experience and caring more it have really made an impact on my personal life.

Log Chopping

Great Smokey Mountains

Making Jam


Making Jam

Exploring the Waterfall


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