Sarah-Marie Taylor

On the 2nd October 2016, I set off on my Roosevelt Journey from Birmingham International airport; destination Boston, MA. As I said goodbye to my family and friends for the 8 weeks, I boarded the flight with a stomach full of butterflies, apprehensive of what America had in store! With a precise itinerary and amazing farm visits lined up, my solo flight across the pond was filled with a combination of nerves and excitement. Arriving in Boston around 6pm ETA, after a 7 hour flight, I was tired and nervous to be in a new place alone. Everything is different yet so familiar; everything is exciting yet scary all at the same time. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment for getting myself on to that plane and landed miles away from home; I’d done it and it felt great!

The 9 days I spent in Boston were filled with lots of research visits to urban farms, school gardens, community gardens and projects. I was busy meeting new like minded people in hostels and through SERVAS; an international hosting organisation and seeing a brand new world. I would say the first week was the hardest and spent with emotional highs and lows. However, the whole time my feelings went from being excited, proud, passionate, inspired, and happy to exhausted, homesick, lost and overwhelmed. But that’s the magic of it, no two seconds are the same, emotions come and go like waves against the shore but one thing that’s remained is a huge sense of achievement. No longer do I fear the unknown, no longer do I take the easy option or stay within my comfort zone and I certainly feel a new ‘can do’ attitude.

From Boston, I travelled down the East Coast arriving in New York and Philadelphia. The same research into urban farm and all things urban green grew and grew as people suggested places I should visit. I then made an internal flight from Philadelphia arriving in L.A and then an overnight bus journey to San Francisco before my departure home. Leaving home for an extended period of time was one of the bravest things I have done in my adult life. The people closest to me know me as a home bird and for myself I felt overwhelmed with leaving my loved ones and business, something I had never done before. The Roosevelt Scholarship offers the opportunity to research as well as an amazing travel experience which was something worth putting my home comforts to the side for. The warmth of the American people fills that gap of missing home as everyone you meet is friendly and helpful; living in the moment and really embracing life… something I will be eternally thankful for!

Being awarded the Nottingham Roosevelt Travelling Scholarship has changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. No matter what situation I was faced with in The States, I got through it. The daily planning of where will I go next, where will I stay and who will I meet has given me so much faith in myself to know that I can do it and no matter what happens it will always work out okay. I feel a new sense of independence, bravery, accomplishment and self belief in a way that I had never imagined.  Despite having to cut my trip short due to unforeseen family circumstances, I left America on a high! Full of new knowledge, inspiration, mindset and attitude, I boarded the flight home knowing it would only be a matter of months before I will return. I am so very grateful and thankful to NRTS for giving me this opportunity for the amazing things I learnt, memories I will never forget and friends I have made along the way. As a direct result of the scholarship and to give back to Nottingham, I have decided to convert my organisation Green Scene Education to a Community Interest Company (C.I.C.), expand it across the city and establish Nottingham’s first Urban Farm… Watch this space