Thoreau Society Travels to Walden PondSALISBURY, MD---While most college students were packing bathing suits and sunscreen for trips to Cancun or Miami over spring break, 12 Salisbury University Bellavance Honors students loaded wool hats, winter coats and hiking boots into college vans and headed not to fun in the sun but to snowy Massachusetts.
Concord, home to authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott; was their destination. But it was Concord’s most famous citizen these students went to find, and find him they did as they immersed themselves in the teachings, places and lifestyle of Henry David Thoreau.
As a result of their experiences, participants were moved to bring what they learned back to SU where they began the Thoreau Society. Their mission is to foster interest in his life, works and philosophy, and to peacefully implement what they have learned from Thoreau’s works through activism.
The society shared a visual presentation of its time spent in his world with the SU community May 9. The presentation served as the first step in implementing how SU may keep alive what a handful of exceptional students learned while walking with Thoreau.
To “live deliberately” as Thoreau did, students walked the town of Concord, explored Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, the school where Thoreau once taught and the Emerson home where Thoreau lived for a time. Following in his footsteps, they explored Walden Pond and Woods, visited the site of Thoreau’s cabin and house replica, and canoed the river Thoreau and his brother, John, once traversed. “All of his writings take on an even deeper meaning once you have been to the places that inspired them,” said student Erika Hajiantoni.
Other excursions included attending a lecture and reception at Thoreau’s alma mater, Harvard, a visit to the Peace Abbey, and a climb of one of Thoreau’s favorite mountains, Wachusett. To embrace Thoreau’s philosophy of simple living, participants stayed in a youth hostel and practiced communal cooking.
There was also plenty of reflection, journal writing, reading and discussion. Students spent time with the imminent scientist E.O. Wilson, author Adam Gamble, artist and environmental activist Robert Bateman, and Thoreau scholar Walter Brain. They learned about educational goals of The Thoreau Society, the civil disobedience legacy and activism undertaken at the Peace Abbey, and conservation efforts of the Walden Woods Project. Student Jill Petrosillo said the trip has made her more environmentally aware and thoughtful about herself.
“I hope that this club will be able to bring together all of the people who are in clubs that focus on only one issue (i.e. social issues, human rights, environmentalism, peace, etc.) and bring them into one community to improve the world,” said Hajiantoni.
For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.