Friday, May 11, 2012

Experiential Journal: Seeing Paint Sludge First Hand

By Alexis Lopez

Prof. Stead showing paint sludge in Hillburn
(photo/Jan Barry)

          For my experiential report, I want to talk about the trip we took to look at paint sludge from Ford’s dumping over thirty years ago. Even though this was technically “class time,” I want to talk about it as my course enrichment component because I felt more impacted by that short trip to Torne Valley in Hillburn, NY than I did listening to any of the speakers.
          Even though we’ve been taught about what happened all of those years ago, it was a totally different experience to view it first-hand in person. Seeing that alien substance in what should be a natural environment was disheartening. It is one thing to hear about it, but it’s a whole other ballgame to view it in person.
          When Professor Chuck Stead was describing how the men dumped the sludge from one site onto the one we were standing on, I could literally picture the men transporting this toxic material. Even though the men did not know the health issues it would cause them later in life, I am shocked that they had no regard to the health risks they were inflicting on the land and the organisms that live off of it.
          When I went home from our little “field trip,” I couldn’t stop telling my roommate all about it. That was how I knew that what I saw really affected me. I kept telling her what Ford did and how the effects are still very much lingering. I was pleased to see that she too was concerned and now I know why people like yourself and Chuck are so passionate about what you do. It was a nice feeling that someone could listen and comprehend and even for a moment feel how you’re feeling.
          I felt very sad to think that humans do such damage to natural beauty. I remember Chuck saying how there are sites like this one all over the United States and that statement did resonate with me. I think at that moment it hit me how bad it could be and how bad it could get. I loved how Chuck still never failed to mention “there’s always something you can do to help.”
          I am very glad that we went on this trip and even though I felt sad at times during this experience, I am thankful that I am not naive to the truths that are out there, and that I am more prepared having had gone to do my part in standing against it.

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