Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Alumni Chronicles: Discovery Through Travel

Matt Young, Verrazano Class of 2012, studied Design and Digital Media (a concentration of the Communications major) at the College of Staten Island.  Matt decided to participate in the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program and spent time in Texas this spring on an organic farm outside of Austin.  Read more about his experiences below.

Matt Young, Verrazano '12
At the beginning of February of this year, I decided to go to Austin, Texas to work on an organic farm through the WWOOF program (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms).  This was a very quick decision on my part, but I believe that some of the best decisions in life are made through feelings and instincts.  Sometimes, when there is nothing to lose, it is worth going for the gold.

I guess it’s kind of stereotypical for a post college graduate like myself to pack my bags and take off for parts unknown.   It’s probably even more stereotypical to blog about it.  But the unknown is simply what hasn’t been learned and experienced yet, and provided that it’s positive, I think traveling is one of the most important growing experiences to be had.  

Although I’ve been to many places, I really didn’t know what I would be getting myself into, as I have never traveled completely by myself (I mean heck, I didn’t go to Manhattan alone until 2012!).   But once I arrived and was greeted by the farmers at the airport, all my fears melted away.  I knew that I would be having an amazing time, and this couldn’t have been more true.

What I loved most about the farm I worked at was the peaceful atmosphere and the self sustainable lifestyle.   The weather was beautiful (in the “heat” of February no less!) and there were plenty of animals to keep good company, particularly the 120 or so chickens. 

The duties I had during the winter included getting gardens ready, brush clearance, and the routine poultry duties (feeding, egg collection, moving them around the pasture)  Chicken processing was also optional, certainly not mandatory. I would imagine spring/summer duties are more hands-on involving the crops.  After putting the basic work in, I was provided with delicious food (much of it from the farm directly) and a wonderful room/shower facility, all located in the farm home. There is plenty of downtime provided to enjoy the natural farmlands.

I also had access to the city part of Austin at many moments, which is truly an amazing place and largely the reason I traveled.  Austin is especially known for its music scene, which I experienced firsthand at the South By South West Music Festival, an annual Austin staple.  Other perks of Austin include its quirky nature, hence the slogan “Keep Austin Weird.”  There is a large young community, due to University of Texas being in the downtown area.   Everyone was so welcoming.

So what’s next for me?  Well, I’ve since returned to Staten Island, but I plan to embark on future adventures while developing my graphic design portfolio and doing what I love.