Although I came to Nature’s Valley to intern as a marine debris analyst, I also felt the need to get away from my home because I felt absolutely consumed by it. Regardless of my reason for coming, Nature’s Valley accepts you for who you are and allows you to start off with a clean slate. Just know that beginning again puts an emphasis on your will to find your own happiness and the direction you want your experience to go. I have nothing but gratitude for the opportunities I have been presented and the amount of happiness and peace I have felt within my time here. Here is my thank you letter to Nature’s Valley and Nature’s Valley Trust.
I thank the spaces that allowed my intellectual and personal growth. From scheduling marine debris surveys from the Groot River to the Keurbooms, I learned about the moon and its cycles, and the way it affects the tides. From assisting a master’s student with her project on sunbirds in the gardens of the friendliest strangers, I learned about the different personalities and behaviors of these wonderful and eccentric creatures. From early wakes for bird ringing in Kalander Kloof and Salt River, I learned that birds are key signifiers of how healthy the earth is, and what smart and resilient animals they are when it comes to adapting to climate change. From attending a flower walk in Covie, I learned about the complexity of the fynbos, and the essential role each animal, bug, and plant plays in keeping these ecosystems alive. From running science bootcamps in George, I learned about the severity of oceans acidifications and the significance of our oceans. From planting trees in Kurland, I learned how empowering community development can be for future generations. And from killing time in every space in between, I learned how to be more present and understand the difference between solitude and loneliness.
I thank the people within these spaces for teaching me a lifetime of lessons. Aside from the technical skills I anticipated to learn, I became aware of the intimacies of nature and built a relationship with it because of you.
I thank the lovely people that I shared a house with, even if our time together was quite fleeting. Thank you for the nights of braaing, movie watching, and playing board games that almost ruined a friendship or two. Thank you for cooking with me, teaching me basic Afrikaans, introducing me to the heavenly and gluttonous goodness of malva pudding and milk tart, putting up with my horrible dad jokes and antics, making a veggie friendly boboti for “fake Christmas”, our adventurous five hour long hikes, the excessive wine drinking and pretending to be connoisseurs, our reading by the fire, our frugal weekend road trips, (barely) trusting me with driving on the wrong side of the road, being my friend even after the fact that I brought Tupperware to the fancy buffet, and just letting me into your lives.
To the spaces and faces I was surrounded by for the last three months – thank you.