A Reflection On My Summer In Kerala

Soka Instructional Garden, photo courtesy of Nina Boutin

Soka Instructional Garden, photo courtesy of Nina Boutin

It has been a little over 4 months since I finished my internship, which has given me a lot of time to integrate and reflect on what I learned at Raxa Collective. I spent my first month in Thekkady at Cardamom County and my second month in Cochin at Spice Harbour. I am deeply grateful for this experience because it has informed my personal growth and career path in ways that are hard to articulate, but- I will try.

The month before coming to India, I walked part of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage in Spain. If that wasn’t exhausting enough, I promptly went to India, and when I got to Raxa Collective, I hit the ground running, trying to figure out how I could best be of service and learn as much as possible. I expected for it to be difficult, but I didn’t know how it would be (though I was forewarned about the monkeys).

I’m working towards an environmental studies liberal arts degree at Soka University. A liberal arts degree is interdisciplinary, therefore I’m always looking for the intersection between things people think are separate. Profit and conservation are definitely things people usually think are separate.

I got to look deeply into the way those can intersect when I interviewed Crist about the path they have taken up until now. That interview has been so valuable for me in planning a business model that incorporates environmental and cultural conservation. Now, I think I want to start a restaurant that incorporates my passion for local food, biodiversity, sustainability, agriculture, and community.

Just being present for the development of 51 helped me see the ways a restaurant can function as a sustainability project. I would like to create a restaurant that has an on-site, urban farm that grows diverse, heirloom varieties, using sustainable agriculture techniques. I think the way I will structure the business will incorporate many of the subtle things I learned while at Raxa Collective, such as ways to collaborate with people and provide a space for the community to activate it’s potential. I would like the profits to be invested in urban sustainability projects, which is something I had no concept about before working with Raxa Collective.

I felt frustrated at times with the internship because I had to constantly figure out how I could best be of use to Raxa Collective and see what could possibly be done based on what was in front of me. This was a great learning experience because it helped bring out necessary skills for entrepreneurs.

Working as an intern for Raxa Collective exposed me to a career path that I wasn’t really aware was an option. This experience helped give me confidence to build a career that may confuse or challenge people’s ideas of what conservation is. This internship helped me develop new skills in the realm of cross-cultural communication, creatively working with whatever resources were available, adapting to situations and improving them in whatever capacity possible.

I am immensely grateful for this experience. I am still gaining things from it months later from just remembering something that didn’t seem important then, but stands out now. Thank you, Crist and Amie for making this possible!

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