welcome to my world!
My name is Elizabeth and I am 22 years old and currently a senior at Cornell University. I am trying to live the most sustainable, conscious, & loving life that I can while spreading that good energy to others. I have a lot of passions in life that include regenerative living, permaculture, veganism, ecofeminism, international development, community building, hollistic health, yoga, creating art, storytelling, and questioning everything.
I am a creative person and I know I want to create something. I am on a journey to find out what exactly that is (think intentional living communty, ecovillage, farm, school). Along the way I have met so many inspirational and innovate people and projects and know that I will encounter many more.
"When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren't pessimistic, you don't understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren't optimistic, you haven't got a pulse." Paul Hawken
I have always been a dreamer and know that I wanted to do big and impactful things in life. I am getting closer and closer to living out my dreams and can genuinely say that I am so happy (something that I never knew if I would say). I want to inspire others to get out and live their dreams. Travel, explore, make deep connections with likeminded people, create art, do meaningful work, get involved in your community, find something that you're passionate about and do it. As cheesy as this sounds, anything is possible. Don't ever settle and chase your dreams.
"We are using the wrong tactics to make people care—fear, guilt and anger. Instead of basing our entire strategy on how scared we are about the future, we should base a strategy on love. 'We all need to find things we love to do, and do them." -Wendell Berry
On this site, you'll find all of the things I have learned along my journey and the successes and struggles that I am dealing with right now. I really hope that I can inspire you in some way.
As always, thank you so much for joining me on this life journey. xx Elizabeth
My mother adopted me from Guangzhou, China when I was a baby and we lived in upstate New York. Just a few years later, she was diagnosed with a rare form of terminal cancer and she passed away when I was 6 years old. That's when I moved in with my aunt, uncle, and cousin, in Binghamton, NY, who would later become my new mom, dad, and sister.
I had a pretty cookie cutter childhood, nothing out of the ordinary. But, when I was 13, my aunt unexpectedly passed away from a heart arrhythmia. This was a tragedy and had a large toll on my family and my own mental health and following years.
My family thought that it would be best for me to move to South Carolina to live with my other aunt, uncle, and two cousins. They wanted me to have a mother figure and nuclear family. At the time, I didn't think much of it. I think I purposefully avoided thinking about anything too much really. I loved Binghamton and all of my family and friends there but a fresh start didn't seem so bad.
Growing up in New York in my sheltered little liberal bubble, I had complete culture shock in South Carolina. Since traveling to many other parts of the world and seeing diverse cultures, I still think that my transition to South Carolina was one of the most shocking. I lived in a rural town known for its high crime rates. I went to the public middle school which was predominantly made up of African American students. I witnessed and experienced racism and segregation like I had never seen before. The amount of hate, prejudice, discrimination, and hostility among the different people in this town were horrifying and sad. It was exactly what I think of as Trump's America.
Because of the low taxes, the schools were terrible. There were no sidewalks or public parks and many unpaved dirt roads. These were all things that I had taken advantage of in my life in New York. My teachers had no passion for their jobs and were uneducated themselves. Many of them had poor grammar and I found myself frequently having to explain things to my own math teacher. I also really did not get along with my aunt or uncle who I lived with.
I learned so much in South Carolina, about the world and myself. My ideas and beliefs were challenged but in the end it gave me a lot of confidence about the person who I am. I realized that I am not a settler. If I don't like something, I am not afraid to speak up and change my situation. With the help of my sister in New York, I applied to go to boarding school for high school back in the Northeast. I was accepted to Millbrook School, a small college preparatory school in the Hudson Valley of New York.
Going to boarding school was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. I loved my boarding school and Millbrook will always feel like home to me. I could go on forever about all of the amazing opportunities that I was given here, but by far the most important thing to me was being part of such an incredible community.
I met 77 amazing people with whom I was able to grow up side by side with. One of Millbrook's mottos is that every student is known and needed. This couldn't have been more true and I feel so lucky to have been part of such a close knit community. Now, I reminisce fondly on my Millbrook days so frequently.
The faculty and staff were another exemplary part of Millbrook. Opposite from South Carolina, each of my teachers was deeply passionate about their field and wanted to share that passion with us. We frequently left our classes blown away and excited by what we had learned, continuing those discussions outside of the classroom. And our teachers weren't only our teachers, they were also our coaches, dorm parents, and community members. From classes, to dinners, to late night dorm conversations, I learned so much from the Millbrook faculty and cannot thank them enough.
Millbrook also had a deep rooted commitment to the environment and sustainability. One of our core values was environmental stewardship and this was the building block for my passion for environmentalism.
One of the most impactful opportunities from my time at Millbrook, were my service trips to a children's home in Ghana. My first trip to Ghana sparked my passion for travel and international development and really put me on the path for where I am today.
Then, somehow, I ended up at Cornell University. Sometimes, I walk around campus in awe feeling so lucky to be at such a prestigious college. I love Cornell and Ithaca and couldn't imagine myself at any other school. I especially love how socially aware the student body and local area are and am constantly amazed by another amazing community.
College isn't all parties and Instagram photos and I actually hated my first semester. But after adjusting socially and making amazing friends, I found my place at Cornell.
Boys weren't a big part of my life in high school and entering the party and hook up culture of college was a big change. My first year was dominated by a lot of boy drama and frustration but I have really ended up in a good place. I gained a lot of self confidence and learned how important it is to value your own self worth.
My major is International Agriculture & Rural Development. When I first came to Cornell I chose this major with the intent on focusing on the international development side of this major. I had absolutely no interest or experience in agriculture. Cornell changed that and now I love ag and the food system. I had no actual experience working on a farm, so after my freshman year I decided to spend the next summer WWOOFing on a permaculture farm in Costa Rica
Costa Rica reinvigorated my passion for environmentalism and made me realize the significance of food and farming. I learned about health and holistic medicine. I made countless diverse friends from all over the world. I had some of the best conversations of my life with these new friends who were all so like minded and passionate.
It also opened me up to the world of backpacking and the endless possibilities for budget traveling. I stayed in a hostel for the first time (now one of my favorite ways to travel) and learned about work away.
This led me to do a workaway at a hostel in Puerto Rico for my winter break 2017, which turned out to be one of the best months of my life.
Among all of this, I also became vegan which is now a huge part of my life, the way that I see the world, and how I envision a better future.
And that brings us to back to the present....
Those are the chronological events of my life, but I've also done a lot of personal development. I've learned that being a woman really sucks a lot of the time but it also the best thing in the world. I've learned that being a minority race can also suck a lot of the time but feeling the oppressions and inequalities of the world have only sparked my fire to do more. I have also learned that being heterosexual, able-bodied, and from a comfortable socio-economic status have given me immense privileges in life. I have realized that I have a whole lot more to learn and will always be growing and expanding my understanding of the world.
I have learned to prioritize my health and mental well-being before everything else because if I am not healthy then I won't be able to succeed at anything else.
I have learned that no matter where you are or who you are, community is a human value.
I have learned that everything is interconnected in one big messed up system. I believe in ecofeminism. We are degrading the environment much in the same way that we are degrading women. I believe in the intersectionality of all oppressions whether it be race, gender, socio-economic status, sexuality, or ability. The world is not black and white.
I am coming to accept no one person can change the world overnight (as much as I may want to), but it is all of the thousands of millions of people all over the world who are making a difference. Grassroots local movements are key. It is the seemingly small changes made by thousands if not millions of people that will change the world.
It is currently July 2017 and this is my story so far. I've got a long way to go and I have BIG dreams but I couldn't be more optimistic and excited about the future. Xx