Originally from Naperville, IL, Annie Wallace is participating in the 2014 water resources summer internship program with Water Rocks!.
I only ever thought of “Casey’s” as the possessive form of a female name. I would have to Google the name of my home county if someone asked (DuPage, for the record. Good to know). I didn’t know even half of my high school graduating class (1,100 kids), let alone my town (160,000), and the idea of driving over 25 on a gravel road still terrifies me.
Clearly, I’m not from around here.
I’m from a town called Naperville, just outside of Chicago.
Moving to Iowa was like entering an entirely new world. The people were different (in a good way), the pizza was different (in a bad way), and I had to adjust the way that I lived my life on a day-to-day basis.
I was quickly enveloped in the culture of Iowa. Right off the bat I learned that Iowans worked extremely hard for the things that they have. The lifestyle has an overall “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” kind of work ethic, and not only is nothing here taken for granted, but the people are also so willing to give. They will give their knowledge, their help, and their kindness, even if they gain nothing in return. After a few years here, I have learned that while good people are there for you when convenient, Iowans are also there when it’s not. The overall atmosphere of Iowa has made me appreciate things in my life that I easily took for granted while living back in Illinois. Of all these things, water is easily one of them.
I never realized the amount of energy required to simply turn on a sink. Something so routine was just second nature, the thought of how much my small action was affecting something other than myself never even crossed my mind. Over my last few years at Iowa State, and through my internship this summer, I have studied the ins and outs of water. From its chemical make up, to how it is distributed, to its accessibility, to what we as people do to infect or disinfect it, I have taken on an entirely new perspective of how our planet’s greatest resource is used in our everyday lives. We are so lucky to live in a place where we don’t have to worry about getting sick when we take a drink, or that we have water readily available when we need to keep up with our hygiene. My understanding of how to care for and conserve our water has greatly influenced how conscious I am with water when I go about my daily activities. I now think twice when I brush my teeth in the morning or look out at a cornfield and think about the different types of agricultural practices that could help conserve our water. I have discovered a passion for water conservation, and will constantly strive to spread the word on how important our role as human beings is to protect such a vital resource.
The culture shock that I experienced by coming to Iowa has influenced me for the better. I am able to find happiness in the things that I would have otherwise taken for granted, and I am so grateful for the things that I’ve learned and come to love. It’s hard to not be romantic about the simplicity of the Iowa lifestyle. From the county fairs, to the small towns, to the all American farmer, there is endless pride in where you come from and how you were raised and what you make of yourself. I am from a city where I was raised well, but was so naïve to what I was gifted with, and have chosen to make myself aware of our resources and how lucky we truly are to have access to them at our own disposal. Whether it be water or any other resource we have readily available, I now know to appreciate even the small things.