I have always been amazed at how we do not know what we are missing until we take the leap of faith and try out new things.

As humans, we always go for the easier route, the comfortable one. We do not like to try things that take us out of our comfort zone, but once we do, we are always left in awe and wonder.

My name is Aloyce Riziki. I was born and raised in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. I am currently a rising junior at Berea College and for the first part of my summer, I am working at the Berea College Forestry Outreach Center.

I have had an office job for my two years at Berea until Wendy hired me. Since arriving in Berea, I have come to learn that I enjoy a variety of outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing, yoga, running, biking, and walking. It’s unfortunate to think I used to live in the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro–a perfect place to hike, rock climb, see all types of flora and fauna, visit all types of rivers, lakes, and waterfalls–but never did any of that. I know, right?

But enough with the past. I have learned my lesson. Live in the moment and take time to enjoy and learn as much about our surroundings as you can, for we are part of nature ourselves, and understanding nature means understanding ourselves better. I have worked here for a week and I honestly could say it has been a great week so far and I have learned a great chunk of information in a very short period of time. Thanks to Wendy, now I have knowledge of wildflowers, birds, and trees, all within a week of working here. She has inspired me to be more mindful especially when outdoors. Before, all I could say was, “Hey look at those flowers, green trees, grass, birds…” But now it is more like, “Look at those blooming spiderworts below the dogwood tree, and can you spot a bunch of indigo buntings on that maple tree? Isn’t their sound beautiful?”

Life is more interesting this way than before. The art of paying attention just does something to myself that I cannot clearly explain, but it gives me peace, increased curiosity, and satisfaction. Being outdoors has never been this satisfying, and it is for this reason that I have agreed and am excited to lead hikes with yoga, the stories of Kilimanjaro, and my growing knowledge of flowers, birds, and trees. Please come join us sometime.

When the focus is on something other than the hike itself, one finds the steepness of the hills or the sharpness of the rocks to be nothing compared to the whole experience. The next thing you know, you have gone over five miles in the forest and your heart is at peace like never before, which is good for you in all realms of wellness. As I have been encouraged, I encourage everyone else to try and pay attention more and see how that changes your whole experience. I am looking forward to the rest of my time here and I am planning on “carpe diem-ing” as much as I can.

Come one, come all, and enjoy the beauty of life through nature…

(…as the weather permits, we all know what Kentucky weather can be like. It’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way coming from the tropics!)



  • Nina,

    You speak the truth!! We are so lucky to access to the Pinnacles and more. It is wonderful to see you take full advantage of Berea’s natural beauty.

  • Jennifer Rose,

    Such great truths! Thank you for sharing.

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