C in College stands for Change - Climate Generation -

C in College stands for Change – Climate Generation

Big change has arrived: college. I left home and going to this new place, I left all the familiar. I left my family, my friends, the environment and the gardens that my friends and I always go to. It was time to enter this new land, this new land that I knew nothing about.

I was excited and curious, but at the same time, overwhelmed and scared.

From the beginning, new practices have been implemented and lessons learned. The freshman orientation started with land endorsement, something I had never heard of (or even heard of!) before. I now know the importance of land acknowledgments. I know now that the land on which I stand is the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary lands of the Dakota Nation and its people.

Recognizing the ground we stand on is like recognizing our place in our lives today. I’m in awe thinking about how much climate change is playing a huge role in my studies and in my life now, because looking back to before college, my climate story was still hidden and yet to be unfolded. Little did I know that I was actually able to shape the story of this story.

At Macalester College, I quickly decided to double major in Environmental Studies and Studio Art. With this, I became fortunate enough to take classes related to the environment and climate change. My knowledge expanded and my interests developed into connections between nature and art.

My commitment to Macalester College and the men’s swimming and diving team.

Art is created as a form of self-expression and storytelling. It is individual for the artist. Since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved art. It was a way for me to let loose. But, what more can I do? Lately I’ve been thinking about how I can make my art and practice something more.

Much of my recent art is centered around my Filipino heritage and culture and my connection to the environment. For example, I made a sculpture of a traditional Filipino breakfast dish made from found items and used food packaging. He gave these used items new life and a new meaning that many can relate to.

I want to continue to explore my Filipino identity through my art.

You may ask why? I was born in the Philippines but moved to the US with my family at the age of three. I grew up in an American culture and was influenced by my peers in life and school. I was just getting in touch with the Filipino culture in my home by watching the Filipino channels on TV and the food my mom cooked. We occasionally travel to the Philippines, but I was eager to learn more.

When I entered college, I knew I wanted to join the Filipino in Macalester Club/Organization and connect with my culture, and I did. There’s always more to discover, but my next assignment involves learning about my dad’s story about climate. He lived and grew up on a farm, but I don’t know much about his story or the state of the climate in the Philippines. As his son, his connection to the land with his farm is important to me and it is through this aspect of storytelling that I want to connect with him more, with his past lives, his family, and the Philippine lands.

College was a step for me to see and explore the different paths I want to take in the future. Like my art and climate story, the world continues to grow. I am also still growing. Now I want to work as a food engineer, especially in developing new products and making food packaging more sustainable. At the same time, I would ask my dad for his climate story and research more about the Philippines or maybe even take a trip there to connect with that environment. No matter what I want to do, I have the power to continue to change my narrative in the same way that I have the power to create the world I want to live in.

I am visiting my father’s family farm in 2010 and enjoying nature

The best world for me is one where human beings care about each other, regardless of race, gender, or other identity, and a world where human beings care about and love the Earth and its inhabitants. I am optimistic for everyone. I am optimistic for myself.

Ramir Villarama

Ramir Villarama (he/it) was born in the Philippines, but moved to New Jersey with his family at a young age. He is currently a sophomore at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In addition to being part of the men’s swimming and diving team, he majors in Environmental Studies and Studio Arts, with a minor in Asian Studies and a concentration in Food, Agriculture, and Society. He has recently learned more about his Filipino culture and relationship with nature, and has been relating to both his art and the work he creates.