Kate Conway ALG Personal Statement

ALG Personal Statement
As I enter my fourth year at Western, I am ready to expand the boundaries of my learning
environment, and the Adventure Learning Grant is an invitation to do just that. After writing my
interdisciplinary concentration, I am ready to take a deep dive into the things I am passionate
about: social justice, food, and forming meaningful connections. The ALG would allow me to do
that while gaining experience navigating the world and all of its surprises and uncertainties. I'm
certain the ALG would profoundly shape the way I see the world by exposing me to people and
places I may never otherwise meet. It would help me be a more conscious world citizen and
expand my comfort zone in ways not possible in a traditional classroom.
Additionally, the project I have proposed will help me grow in even more ways. If I am to
form meaningful connections with those I meet, my project requires that I approach interactions
humbly and with the intention of listening and learning. I will be asked to think and speak in
Spanish, to learn about cultures different from my own, and to trust myself and my abilities. My
ALG project will challenge me to consider alternatives to the ways we live and produce food in
the U.S., and it follows that my beliefs and values surrounding these things will be challenged
too. I am also eager for the opportunity to build trust and confidence in myself. Traveling alone
will require me to make difficult decisions and judgement calls, respond to unforeseen
circumstances, and cope with feelings of discomfort.
I have learned time and time again that discomfort is a part of growth, so I already have
practice immersing myself in uncomfortable circumstances. After high school, I chose to go to
Western because I wanted an adventure. I wanted to see a new place, meet new people, learn new
things, and push myself far outside of my comfort zone. I moved from Minnesota to Washington
alone. I didn't have any family or friends here, and that was scary, but I am so happy with my
decision. In Bellingham, I have met great friends and mentors, taken challenging courses,
learned how to bike, camped and hiked, farmed, and grown a lot as a person. I gained experience
living alone and supporting myself financially, while also learning the importance of community
support systems and mutual aid. I see all of this as preparation for the challenges and adventures
of the ALG.
Learning how to push the limits of my comfort zone helped land me my first farming job.
I had no farming experience and had to learn on the fly, but it was one of the best jobs I've ever
had. I worked hard and learned a lot, and it fueled my interest in sustainable agriculture and food
justice. The following summer I worked at the Outback Farm, and this fall I was hired as the
Permaculture Coordinator. Stepping into the coordinator role was intimidating, and it still is
sometimes, but it is work that I enjoy and feel is important. Some of my favorite parts of the job
are hosting student work parties and leading farm tours. Both allow me to connect with my
community, get to know and learn from people, and share my love for food and farming. I hope
to do the same in my travels. My time farming has taught me to be tuned into my surroundings,
resourceful, flexible (because people and weather are unpredictable), curious, willing to try new
things, and self-sufficient while knowing when to ask for help. I am eager to put these skills to
use in a new environment.
I also have personal experience traveling abroad. In high school, I studied abroad in Italy.
This was my first experience with international travel, but the trip was fairly structured, and I
was surrounded by friends and classmates, which eased my discomfort. After high school, I
traveled alone to Germany for the summer to visit two former exchange students. I learned how
to plan a trip, use loneliness and homesickness to push me to connect with people, be a gracious
and respectful guest, navigate public transportation, think on my feet when things didn't go as
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planned, and make the most out of every situation. Though not entirely different from the U.S.,
my time in Germany challenged my ideas of how we live and move through our environment.
The people I stayed with lived in homes and apartments that were very small by U.S. standards,
and they rarely used cars. We spent a lot of time walking, biking, and on the bus. It was in
Germany that I was introduced to the joy of exploring a city by bicycle. I want to continue
challenging my beliefs and values, especially around food and relationship to land.
I know the pandemic may greatly limit my ability to experience my proposed project and
take full advantage of the ALG. Despite this, I am confident that my flexibility, curiosity,
willingness to try new things, desire for adventure, and good communication skills will allow me
to find a way to pursue my interests and passions no matter the circumstances. Other limiting
factors could be insufficient conversational Spanish skills, not knowing enough about bike
maintenance, or the inability to find farms willing to have me as a guest. I believe all of these
factors can be addressed with proper preparation, and I am willing and excited to put in the time
and effort to take full advantage of the ALG.