Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Millennial Trains Project

The Millennial Trains Project is a ten-day across-country trip on a train for millennials to further their research interests and explore new frontiers in the US. I was over the moon when I knew I was selected for this trip. We had seven major stops where we had time to interview individuals, institutions and/or organizations of our interests. We also had mentors in these cities as well as on the train. Our stops were Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Whitefish, MO, St. Paul, MN, Milwaukee, WI, Chicago, IL, New York, NY and then we flew to DC for the closing ceremony.

MTP train is not only about developing leadership skills and establishing professional networks, but it’s also about inner development. The time I took to reflect on my Fulbright experience in the US, my MA degree progress and where I want go from there was invaluable. More importantly, it was a great time to ponder about my life in general and my position in this world. The train car’s dome was a perfect spot to meditate and reflect while passing by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country.

What I am sharing with my fellow Fulbrighters here is not an academic experience, rather, it’s one of great fun that I learned priceless lessons from. One of the highlights of my MTP experience was in Whitefish, MO. It just magically captured my all my senses. I never knew much about Montana and it wasn’t on my “to see” list. We kicked off with breakfast at Montana Coffee Trader and set out to the Glacier National Park. I saw landscapes that took my breath away. The scattered accumulation and compaction of ice, the mesmerizing greenery, towering trees, high mountains, and wildlife conjured up an excitement to explore the beauty of nature and the drive to sustain this God-sent gift. It compelled me to meditate God’s meticulous and marvelous creation. The beauty of the Glacier National Park brought back to memory the romantic poetry I studied in my undergraduate studies and soon John Keats’ opening stanza of “Endymion” came to mind:

A THING of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing

I was stunned to see how the rest of the group was also blown away by what we were seeing. I was observing our behavior. It felt like we stepped out of the virtual world most of us live in and came back to mother nature where smiles were illuminating our faces and delight coated our time. I learned that no matter how advanced our time might be, it’s one place that brings delight to the heart and tranquility to the soul. It’s nature that I am more committed now to be an advocate for its preservation. As we drove back, we came across a mountain goat family as if saying, “ Don’t forget to come back to nature. To come back to life.”

Ammar Mohammed is an FY13 Yemeni Fulbrighter pursuing an MA in Sustainable Development at SIT Graduate Institute.

No comments:

Post a Comment