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A chance to grow: Farm experience plants lessons

Rachel Goding '19 (far right) stands with fellow crew leaders and farm supervisors at Mill Village Farms, where she interned, in 2018. She will share her experience at Furman Engaged! on April 9.

As a summer intern for Mill Village Farms, Rachel Goding ’19 had gotten used to getting her hands dirty — She and her team pruned, watered, weeded and harvested crops before hauling them to a local farmers market.

But for Goding, who served as a crew leader of six underprivileged teens, there was an added, special task: reflecting. And in particular, reflecting on what it was like to work with the youths, focusing each week with them on a certain word – “perseverance,” “teamwork,” and others – borrowed from a list of crucial soft skills that prepare future employees for the professional world.

Goding’s reflections took the form of a blog, a key part of Goding’s internship at Greenville-area Mill Village in the summer of 2018. Through this blog, her faculty advisor, Sociology Professor Amy Jonason, offered support, a sounding board and guidance.

“She’d comment on every single post,” says Goding. “She’d comment on a reflection and say something like, ‘If you want to talk to me, then come in.’ I tend to reflect emotionally, so some of my posts were emotional, for sure, and she commented that it’s something she appreciated.”

Jonason says the blog allowed her to maintain a dialogue with her students but also for students to comment on one another’s experiences.

“I think this ongoing reflection and dialogue is critical to helping students connect their experiences in the classroom with their experience outside of it,” says Jonason. “The blog is also a community space where they can receive support as they process new – and sometimes difficult – experiences with poverty.”

Goding will be among the students participating in the 11th annual Furman Engaged!, a day-long exploration of diverse and immersive learning experiences from across disciplines on April 9. Learn more about her work at Furman Engaged!, where she and others will discuss their experiences during a gallery walk. Goding will also present a medicine, health and culture poster earlier in the day.

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