by Sofia Reyes Valencia, AP'18

In Celo it’s hard to believe how tenuous our connections to the earth can become. But it can become easier to understand how these connections tether new generations to those who came before. The projects we work on Arete are, no doubt, a small part in the larger legacy of craftspeople, farmers, and all-around hard workers. Here, we get the opportunity to marvel at the ingenuity with which many of our ancestors made and received their daily bread. We build roofs, we chop wood, we put ourselves to work in order to help keep our community going and to challenge ourselves in new ways.

Personally speaking, I get the chance to learn several trades within my family history. Milking, sawing, or stoking a forge flame I can create a whole new level of context with which to appreciate the members of my family who were- and are- blacksmiths, carpenters, or laborers. Memories of standing before my godfather’s wood shop, small and paralyzed by the sheer mystery of the work, are now tucked under my own memories of chiseling out brace notches for a roof beam, or the glances of trust I share with cohort members before turning on the table saw and ripping a long piece of wood.

An experience like this helped me understand the hard, intelligent, and incredible work jobs like this need. They also help me understand the incredibly hard work my grandparents and family have put in to give their children a brighter future. Because this is work. It is sweat, and muscle, and bruises. It is a dichotomy of loving the labor and loving my predecessors for putting in all this labor to give us a better tomorrow. I am thankful for it. I am thankful and, now, I am even more proud of the history I am a part of.


Sofia Reyes Valencia is a member of the 2018 Blue Ridge Session cohort. She studies at the University of Edinburgh, where she majors in English and French Language.