Terrascope is…

01 Jun 2020 Terrascope is…

by Sherry Zhou ’20

Transcript for “Terrascope Is…”

Sherry: Sustainability. Environmental issues. Problem solving. Food. Friendship. Community. Classes. Mentorship. Spring break trips.

[MUSIC] Lyricless a capella music in E minor begins to play and repeats continuously until the poem begins.

Sherry: These are words that come to mind when we reflect on what Terrascope means to us. I’m Sherry Zhou from Terrascope class of 2020, and I’m a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology majoring in chemistry and biology.  Terrascope is a first-year learning community at MIT focused on solving complex, real-world problems affecting our planet. That’s a paraphrase from what’s on the website, terrascope.mit.edu, check that out if you haven’t yet. But that’s not why I’m here today. I’m here to give you a glimpse into Terrascope from the students’ perspective, from the eyes and ears of me and other Terrascopers, into yours. So instead of hearing me and others talk to you in person, on campus about Terrascope, I’ve decided to toss my typical spiel and replace it with an aurally-enriched poem. That’s aurally two ways, starting with an au and an o, as you’ll hear in a bit. But please keep in mind that this is a synthesis of my experiences with Terrascope along with some of other Terrascopers. If you have any questions about Terrascope, we’d love to hear from you! There’s more info about us at our program page, terrascope.mit.edu. All ambient sound used in the poem was recorded by students taking an optional spring Terrascope class called Terrascope Radio. Without further ado, here is the poem.

[MUSIC] Fade out lyricless a capella music in E minor.


Sherry: Terrascope is…

Terrascope is the beginning of a solution,

        [Ambient Sound] Bells chiming in a market

the start of a new hour,

innovative and collaborative,

tackling a complex environmental problem.


Terrascope is a home away from home,

a place to study and to relax,

        [Ambient Sound] In the background, student talking; “you got proper mic positioning… check the levels, check, check, check, check, check, check”

being helpful, and sometimes too helpful,

        [Ambient Sound] Student continues talking; “check, check, check, check, check, check…”

to mentor and be mentored,

a place of friendship and family.


Terrascope is baking in our cozy kitchen,

        [Ambient Sound] noises of scooping hard licorice

exploring cultures through snacking,

        [Ambient Sound] Student narrating “as he first bites into the thorax of the ant…”

learning how to perform ceremonial food preparation,

        [Ambient Sound] Sounds of grinding stones grinding corn

enjoying community lunch together once a week.

        [Ambient Sound] Indistinct chattering


Terrascope is a place of exploration,

traveling through time on ancient waterways,

        [Ambient Sound] Splashing water and laughter

pushing boundaries, mentally and physically,

        [Ambient Sound] Rhythmic splashing water

learning to appreciate the world around you in new ways.

        [Ambient Sound] Squelching noises of feet walking through deep mud


Terrascope is being openminded,

gathering voices and new perspectives

from the written word, from people, from nature,

        [Ambient Sound] Rainstorm with a thunderclap

on the ground and in the air.

        [Ambient Sound] Pattering of rain during of an intense rainstorm


Terrascope is finding terrrrrible puns,

        [Ambient Sound] Ducks quacking

hearing strange arguments and debates,

being inquisitive and sometimes too curious,

        [Ambient Sound] Girl speaking “make the duck make noise…”

a part of you to nurture as you wish if you so choose.


And Terrascope helps pave the way for more.

[MUSIC] Fade in lyricless a capella music in E major.

Sherry: This piece was written and produced by me, Sherry Zhou. Special thanks to David McGee, our awesome director of Terrascope, to Elise Chambers, our outstanding community coordinator, and in particular, to Ari Epstein, our wonderful Terrascope instructor, for lending me a kit and for all the mentorship he has provided me in radio and otherwise. Major thanks to Landon Chu, Jorge Nin, and Sarah Wu for their generosity in providing me and allowing me to use sound that they collected on their Terrascope spring break trips. Shout out to all of Terrascope for being a fantastic community, and to all the people who have been involved with Terrascope in helping make its classes and spring break trips downright incredible. Thank you for listening. Stay safe and stay strong.

[MUSIC] Fade out lyricless a capella music in E major.

Attribution for sound: All ambient sound is from Landon Chu, Jorge Nin, Sarah Wu, and Sherry Zhou. Music was created by Sherry Zhou.