Diving into River Basin Studies
Sunlight glitters on the sand and waves rumble across Wrightsville Beach as a group of first-year Guilford students grab their surfboards.
The five-day, learn-to-surf trip is unlike most college pre-orientation trips, which aim to merely introduce students to their classmates. These students are also being introduced to a river basin.
The trip is part of the Cape Fear River Basin Studies Program, now in its second year. The program teaches students how to use principled problem solving to help address challenges facing the basin.
More opportunitites for experiential learning, including another trip to the coast, are open to all Guilford students during January Term 2014, Jan. 3-24.
Through afternoon clean-up sessions along the beach, a marsh grass exploration at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher and several lectures, students learn about the impact of actions taken in Greensboro, at the headwaters of the river.
“I want to get students to understand that they’re in a place bigger than all of us,” says Maia Dery, one of the trip leaders.
“It makes it much more real for the students to walk in a salt marsh that’s been closed to fishing because it has so many pollutants in it. Those pollutants didn’t come from the ocean, they came from upstream.”
The program is designed to bring students to a place they love and help them make connections between their passions and the environment.
Virginia Shutler, a senior who attended the inaugural trip last year, says the time at the coast not only promotes the core values of the College, but gives students an opportunity to define themselves, both who they are and who they want to be.
Because the program is new, students like junior Julia Beveridge are working alongside faculty members to define the program itself.
“I’m forging this path and so is every student in this program,” Julia says. “I feel like I’m getting more experience here than at any other college. I’m making my education. I’m learning and teaching.”
Maia believes students are receiving more than an academic education.
“Our history is one of peacefully sowing the seeds of revolution,” she says. “We exist to change paradigms, starting with young people.
“This program is intended to build upon the Quaker idea of things civil and useful. As far as I can tell, there’s nothing more civil and useful than water.”