WPIâ€™s International & Intercultural Magazine
Inside this issue : Argentina * Bhutan * Costa Rica * Kenya Morocco * Namibia * Paraguay * South Africa * Thailand * US * and more!
Issue 1: Fall 2012
Depiction of Kal Bhairav in Hanuman Dhoka, Basantpur, Nepal. This fierce manifestation of the Hindu god Shiva is associated with annihilation and is one of the most important deities for the country. He is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. Taken by Colleen Callahan-Panday (2009).
Letter from the Editor
Many of us travel; we travel for work and for study, to visit family or friends, and for pleasure and
relaxation. Travel can take many forms; we might travel for a long weekend as a tourist, or live abroad for many years. Some people constantly itch for the next adventure, and others only travel when they must. Yet whether you travel for a short while or a long time, whether you have a good or a bad experience, one thing is universal—travel is an experience. Often it is one that begs further reflection. When we return from a trip, many of us are quick to unpack our clothes and our souvenirs, however we do not generally give ourselves an opportunity to unpack our experiences. This magazine wants that to change. We want to see your photos, stories, poetry, articles and artwork— we want you to “unpack” and share with the entire WPI community! Let us see your pictures from that IQP in Costa Rica, let us hear your story about attending a Chinese New Year party with your roommate on campus, let us enjoy a reflective poem about your family trip to Ireland, or the painting inspired by the canals in Venice. There are many stories on campus just waiting to be told... unpacked’s mission is to provide undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty and staff of the WPI community a space to share and reflect on international and intercultural experiences. The magazine aspires to promote global awareness, cross-cultural understanding and dialogue on campus with the aim of informing, challenging, and expanding the university’s views on culture and the global community. unpacked hopes to both educate and encourage community members to be interested and responsible global actors. As someone whose life has been greatly informed and changed by international and intercultural experiences—whether it was a study abroad experience in India, an internship in Kenya, or learning new and interesting things from the international students I work with everyday—I can attest to the importance of understanding more about our world. We hope that unpacked will introduce you to new people and places, new cultures and experiences, and inspire you to find out more. Please enjoy our first issue, and we look forward to hearing YOUR story next! Colleen Callahan-Panday, Editor-in-Chief Assistant Director, International Students and Scholars Editorial Board: Leanne Johnson (IGSD), Ulrike Brisson (Humanities & Arts), Christine Drew (Library) Do you have something to submit for unpacked Spring 2013? a
Submissions, questions and comments/letters-to-theeditor can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org a
For more information visit: wpi.edu/offices/ih/unpacked.html a
Next submission deadline: February 3, 2013 @ midnight ON THE COVER: “Shishani at Sunset” taken by Donal Boyd, Chemical Engineering ‘13, Namibia (D ‘12). For more of Donal’s photos see page 9.
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ABOVE: The editor, dressed in traditional Maasai clothing, taken during a study experience living with a pastoralist family in rural Kenya (2004).
Table of Contents 7 Where Are You From? The Story of a Third Culture Kid Sakshi Khurana ‘16 8 I Walked On Jighjigh Ivase ‘13 9 Namibia: Photo Series Donal Boyd ‘13 15 Riding the Bus Nicolas Gomez Enriquez Riart ‘16 17 Namibia and Germany—A Lavender Marriage? Ulrike Brisson, Assistant Teaching Professor of German, Humanities and Arts 20 Morocco: Photo Series Molly Homchenko ‘15 25 Safari-ing Across Savannahs Manisha Krishnan ‘16 27 Gross National Happiness in the Thunder Dragon Saraj (Jetro) Pirasmepulkul ‘16 29 Apartheid and Togetherness in a Cemetery in Darling, South Africa Scott Jiusto, Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division 31 Bond Monolina Binny ‘14 33 A Snapshot of Namibian Culture Patrick Ford ‘13 35 La Vaca Enamirada Aarti S. Madan, Assistant Professor of Spanish. Humanities and Arts 38 Thailand: Photo Series Abby Albright ‘12 41 Costa Rica: Education for Sustainable Living Caitlin Swalec ‘16 43 My Trip to Thailand Sean GIle ‘13 45 Take Every Opportunity That You Can Jessica Colon ‘13 47 Building Cultural Understanding One Meal at a Time Rick Vaz, Dean, Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division 1, 5, 16, 32 Pictures: Nepal, Thailand, Santa Fe, London Various Contributors Worcester Polytechnic Institute
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Kimberly Woodward Chemical Engineeringâ€˜12, IQP Thailand (Câ€™11)
Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of
Thailand, lies just north of Bangkokâ€™s city limits. In contrast to the colors, smells, and pace of Bangkok, Ayutthaya radiates the Thai cultural through temples aged over hundreds of years, with relics of weathered Buddha figures, and structures commanding awe and respect with their grandeur and continued strength. Faith, battles, love and life are preserved in the statues and remnants of the former grand palace and surrounding temples. Each beheaded Buddha tells a story of a conqueror attempting to pillage gold, or an enemy desecrating a statue to curse a temple. There is a unity between the land, structures, and people, as trees have intertwined with stone bodies, and locals continue to gown select ancient statues in decorative orange garments. Culture and history are preserved in each brick, and the city holds a unique brilliance. Ayutthaya continues to show off the genuine beauty of the Thai culture and connects past and present as one.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Experience Where Are You From? The Story of a Third Culture Kid By Sakshi Khurana Biotechnology ‘16, from India and Indonesia
here are you from?” That’s the first question from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK's life experience, the sense of belonging is in I get asked every time I meet someone new. Usually, I’ll simply say ‘Indonesia’ because, well, I relationship to others of similar background.”1 As the years have gone by, my experiwas born there and I grew up there. Sometimes, ences have shown me that I am incredibly fortuhowever, I’ll hesitate and then give the long nate to be a third culture kid. My parents grew and honest answer. I’m ethnically Indian. My dad was born in up in India, moved to Singapore shortly after New Delhi but my paternal grandmother is origi- they got married and were later transferred to Jakarta, Indonesia. They love to travel and exnally from an area that is now part of Pakistan. She moved to New Delhi with her family during perience different cultures. They believe that being open minded about new sights, sounds the partition in 1947. My mother was born in a small town near New Delhi called Meerut in the and places is an important skill in life. Because of them, I have had the opportunity to visit state of Utter Pradesh. My maternal grandparents, though, are originally from the border be- some of the most amazing places in the world and try some of the most wontween Afghanistan and Pakistan. I, how“I’ve never felt like I truly belonged derful food in the world. Yup, I admit it, I’m a huge foodie. ever, was born and anywhere. Instead, I feel like I be- From authentic Swiss fondue to brought up in Indonelong everywhere… And what is it delicious fish and chips from sia. I went to an interNew Zealand’s north shores to national school there that I want? I want to learn, and spicy Thai prawns in Phuket, for 12 years. Here’s grow and then take that personal food will always be a big part of the funny thing: I have development and spread it. I want my life. no legal ties to IndoBut it’s not just food I nesia and instead, to change the world. I will change swear! It’s the multi-cultural exhave permanent resithe world.” posure, learning about the dency in New Zeaworld through a multitude of land where I spent a different perspectives and the sense of global small amount of my childhood. citizenship that has been engraved into my Third culture? You could say that. unique way of life since I was a baby. The term ‘third culture kid’ comes from Being a third culture kid is difficult; I’ve the early 1950s, created by a sociologist and never felt like I truly belonged anywhere. Inanthropologist named Ruth Hill Useem. She used this word to refer to children who migrated with stead, I feel like I belong everywhere. I’m a child of this playground that we call the world and I their parents to another society. Third culture am free to go where ever, and do whatever I kids are often referred to as global nomads. In more recent times, an American sociologist, Da- want. And what is it that I want? I want to learn, and grow and then take that personal developvid C. Pollock developed an improved definiment and spread it. I want to change the world. tion for third culture kids: “A Third Culture Kid I will change the world. (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant ___ part of his or her developmental years outside 1 Pollock, D. C., and R. E. Van Reken. Third Culthe parents' culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not hav- ture Kids: Growing Up among Worlds. Nicholas ing full ownership in any. Although elements Brealey Publishing, 2009. Web.
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Inspiration I Walked On By Jighjigh Ivase Aerospace Engineering ‘13, from Nigeria
I Walked on
On my path to destiny’s rendezvous, An imminent stutter to my step—that certain sense of hesitation But I walked… I kept walking. What questions will she ask? What mysteries possesses she? What power in her grip What elements harnesses she? To wield us go? For yield we so. I wondered noisily within me for a time Then it came to me: “Look up, look around, You are not alone on this journey” I looked and saw I listened and heard My fellow travellers. It was a case for eyes: “My eyes are the window to my soul,” said one traveller. Another replied “These eyes are a light for my spirit.” Yet another traveller, “My eyes are the best part of me, In them all my essence is captured.” “My eyes give me definition, I look everyone in the eye—fearless.” I walked on Quietly thinking to myself: Does the soul need a window, can’t it be a soul all in itself? And do our spirits need light? They are lights powerful in themselves. Is our beauty, comeliness... essence captured only in a part of us, can’t we be beauty itself? And why be defined by a single stare, The boundless entity you are, wrapped up in a mere stare? I Walked on On my path to destiny’s rendezvous, Thinking to myself... I still am Thinking to myself. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Experience Namibia: Photo Series By Donal Boyd Chemical Engineering ‘13, Namibia (D ‘12)
ON THE COVER/BELOW: “Shishani at Sunset” Shishani Vranckx is a singer/songwriter born in Namibia to a Belgian father and a Namibian mother. She left her motherland at the age of five and grew up and in the Netherlands, where she currently lives. Her mixed European/African background exposed her to various styles, but her main influences have been Soul, Jazz and RnB. Over the years she has collaborated with various artists with who she recorded and performed internationally. Together with guitarist/songwriter Koron she created a repertoire of original Folk/Soul music during a period of five years. This image was taken in Sossusvlei, Namibia.
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Right: After leaving the Boulder Beach South African Penguin Nature Reserve, where a few friends and I observed the penguins on the beach from raised platforms; we decided to explore a random beach and unexpectedly came across a group of wild penguins outside of the Nature Reserve. As we swam in the cold Atlantic waters of Simons Town, South Africa, we were fortunate enough to swim side by side with the penguins—I will never forget the two hours we spent on that beach, swimming with the Penguins.
Male Lionâ€”King of the Jungle
LEFT: In northern Namibia, a Makalani seed falls from a palm tree where it is plucked by the hands of a skilled Namibian artisan. The artists collects over 100 seeds; he first labors to break the hard hollow outer layer of the seed to reveal the rockhard inner core that is white with dark brown skin. Next, the artist travels over 600 km to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, where he begins the tedious work of boring each seed by hand to attach leather bands. Finally, the artist then stations himself at the corner of Independence Avenue. He patiently awaits customers, tourists, with a smile and a scalpel. His intention is to sell, as he states, a “piece of Namibia.” The “piece of Namibia,” in this photograph was carved, by scalpel, in no more than five minutes by Kalabi. Kalabi learned how to carve any animal from his father when he was just ten years old. He has been making the 1200 km round-trip more than 30 times per year to collect Makalani seeds for the better part of three decades and sell his pieces of Namibia, to support his family.
Donal Boyd’s final photo can be found on page 26 Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Viewpoint Riding the Bus By Nicolas Gomez Enriquez Riart Industrial Engineering ‘16, from Paraguay
9:10 pm, I jumped onto the Linea 30 bus on
noying squeaking sound. Nelly got off the bus and I kept thinking. I could not believe that Avda Peru to ride back home after my Portucollege students, educated Paraguayan citiguese course. There were five people on the zens, were harming their own nation, their own bus; the driver, a couple, my Frenchhome. Portuguese classmate Nelly and I. Nelly was I thought about how this action is proof exhausted from a long troubling day, and of my people´s lack of love for their own asked me to let her know when we were three home. By following this accepted example blocks from Sacramento Avenue so that she many—ranging from the elite to the extremely could get off at her bus stop. Then she slept. I poor—Paraguayans show how much they admired her ability to sleep on a Paraguayan care. This is why our country is in the deplorabus which emitted thunderous engine and ble status it breathes tobreak sounds day. Not for littering our throughout the en“I am Paraguayan and my nation has own streets but for the lack tire trip. Meanwhile, I of love we have for our an immeasurable capacity for observed the peoown reality, our present, growth. It has abundant natural reple in the bus. I saw sources and citizens with potential to and our future of our Parathe driver texting as make a difference... I am a dreamer guay. he drove, probably Last year, our govand I believe that one day true patriletting his wife know ernors, teachers, parents, that he was on his ots will run the country and take it to friends—everybody— last shift and that the path that will bring progress and babbled about the Bicenhe´d be home soon. joy to Paraguayans.” tenario, about how we are I saw the couple flirtthe present and future of ing with each other our country, and it depends on us if our counas the man drank the last sips of his Coke and try will progress tomorrow. This will not happen the woman ate the last of her cookie and if we do not love our country, and behave as crunched up its wrapper. true patriots, because a true patriot will never Then I saw it. I experienced the lack of litter their own nation. A true patriot will never love and interest Paraguay’s own people just babble about how we can change our have for her. I saw the man toss his Coke botcountry. A true patriot will wake up everyday tle out the window and the woman follow his and just do it, live for the good of their counexample. After I saw this, I fell into a deep try. meditation, wiping my mind from all distracI am Paraguayan and my nation has an tions to think. I thought on the reasons they did immeasurable capacity for growth. It has this; what need did they have to litter their abundant natural resources and citizens with own city, their own country? I assumed they potential to make a difference. It seems to were from Asuncion because they got off the lack nothing. But it is prevented from progressbus before I did and they got on the bus at ing by its own people. I am a dreamer and I the stop in front of their university. I was so disbelieve that one day true patriots will run the tracted; I almost forgot to warn Nelly that her country and take it to the path that will bring stop was near. I only remembered due to the progress and joy to Paraguayans. bus suddenly breaking, which emitted an an-
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Nikole Connor Biomedical Engineering ‘12, Master’s in Biomedical Engineering ’13, IQP Sante Fe, New Mexico (D’11)
View from 10,378ft - Sandia Peak, Cibola National Forest, Albuquerque New Mexico. The mission of
my team's project was to facilitate the accessibility and use of multi-use trails in Santa Fe while promoting social interaction among trail users. Sandia Peak was just one of the many beautiful aspects of New Mexico and every day presented itself with a new photo opportunity!
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Viewpoint Namibia and Germany—A Lavender Marriage? By Ulrike Brisson Assistant Teaching Professor of German, Humanities and Arts, Namibia (D ‘11)
Visiting Namibia as a German can be a con-
flicting experience: fascinating and humiliating. From early March to early May 2011, my colleague Ingrid Shockey and I spent eight weeks as project advisors with twenty-eight WPI students in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, and WPI’s project center. The students were working on their IQPs in, for example, water management, computer technology, or tourism. Although I have lived as a German citizen in the US for almost twenty years and was representing a US educational institution, in Namibia, my German background was suddenly brought to the foreground again.
the palm trees, the people, and the languages spoken in Windhoek (English and various ethnic languages).
The GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung had their offices in our neighborhood. Downtown newspaper sellers urged me to buy the Windhoek Allgemeine Zeitung, and the Goethe Center became an important institution during my stay. They were invaluable not only for their friendly staff and library with interesting books about Namibia, but also for their cultural events such as film viewings and slide shows, and not to forget, also for their home-baked German cakes served at a lovely outdoor café in their courtyard. A short walk up the hill was the Christus Kirche, a site of worship for the German-speaking community, and half a mile further stood the Reiterdenkmal, a reminder of the German Schutztruppe and a memorial German-Namibians have insisted to keep despite its problematic symbolic nature: Under the brutal orders by Lothar von Trotha and the gun fire of the Schutztruppe soldiers about 50-70% of the Herero population and about 50% of the Nama population lost their lives during the Herero-Namaqua Wars from The German and Namibian flags 1904-07. Some scholars claim it to be a trial run for the Nazi Holocaust. Considering that Namibia used to be a A different type of German is populatGerman colony for only a relatively short time ing Namibia today – hoards of tourists, eager from 1883 to 1915, the continued presence of to see Namibia’s wildlife on safaris – the big Germans, German products and culture is five: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo astonishing. My first accommodation was in – stream into Namibia every year. Often overthe B&B called Kleines Heim. Prof. Shockey looked, however, is the fascinating small aniand I were later relocated to the Foundation mal world in Namibia with its lizards, butterflies, House belonging to the Polytechnic of Namib- squirrels, weaver-birds, and marmot-like dasia situated among the composer streets: Mo- sies. Unfortunately, killing baby seals for fur is zartstraße, Brahmsstraße, Haydenstraße, etc. still a legal enterprise in Namibia. Aside from Door handles and bathroom fixtures remind mining (especially uranium and diamonds), one of close economic ties to Germany. It almost felt like living in Germany if it weren’t for 17
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tourism is one of the most important sources of income for Namibia. If you plan a trip, you should rent an all-terrain vehicle because only the major highways are paved. The rest of the country’s roads are well-maintained gravel roads, but unsuitable for long trips in sedans. You pass the inspection check point about 20 km outside Windhoek and then the Wow!landscape stretches out in front of you: miles and miles of seemingly uninhabited land. Ingrid and I kept saying “Wow!” whenever we drove over a hillcrest to gaze at a new stretch of land with impressive rock formations or green hills tainted yellow by thousands of tiny flowers. Silvery grass made the land appear like a bright velvety carpet. Normally, the land, part of which is the Namib Desert, is arid, but 2011 was unusually wet so that the landscape looked a lot like California in the spring. With a population of 37 million, Californians have, however, loved most of its nature to death, whereas in Namibia with only 2 million people and twice the size of California, much of its nature is still intact. One of the highways takes you through the desert to Swakopmund situated on the Atlantic coast and next to enormous dunes. This city with its pseudo-German architecture is almost entirely in the hands of Germans or Afrikaans-speaking whites, the service personnel is, like in Windhoek, black. Its hotels, B&Bs, cafés, restaurants, and amazing little museum cater mostly to European tourists. Namibians welcome tourists with mixed feelings. Visitors bring in money, necessitate jobs, and indirectly protect the wildlife in order to guarantee a source of income for tourism. In fact, Namibia included wildlife and natural resource conservation in its constitution. As the tourists come primarily for the nature and not for its people, they are often poorly informed about its history, traditions, and values. Namibians, for example, tend to dress more formally; shorts and tank tops are disapproved of, especially for anybody over 30, and white tourists in shorts are an offensive sight to them. Pinkish skin does not look all that great in a culture of beautiful blackness, and skin color is still a political and social issue. White tourists like to dress in safari garb, which Namibians associate with their colonial past and reject as clothing for
A German tourist swims past kids in Swakopmund themselves. Despite the hot climate, Jeans, below-the-knee skirts, and carefully ironed shirts are part of the current dress code. Many Namibian’s walk and act slowly – probably to avoid sweating under the hot African sun – and there is grace to it. For Westerners used to a faster pace, it can be unnerving though. Less obvious in the streets of Windhoek are other groups of Germans: NGOs (nongovernment organizations), gentleman farmers, and entrepreneurs. Klein Windhoek is the residential district where you would find most of them and where you would hear German at the Saturday open-air market or at its garden center. Their presence is also felt through the products of their companies. You can buy German bread, excellent German pastry, and German beer. The German VW Golf is one of the most popular private cars; wealthy Namibians opt for a BMW or Mercedes. Interestingly, about 80-90% of all the cars are white; the climate definitely plays a role in the choice of car Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Wika or Windhoek Karneval color. German engineers are invested in environmental technology. One of our student teams organized a waterless toilet from a German engineer for a farming community south of Windhoek. A German high school carries on a rather traditional form of German culture – as a German NGO informed me whose two children were attending the Deutsche Höhere Privatschule in Windhoek. Once a year, a huge parade blocks the traffic in Windhoek, cheerful floats celebrate the Wika or Windhoek Karnival celebrated since the 1950s by Windhoek’s German population. Similar to the Rose Monday parades in carnival in Köln, Düsseldorf or Mainz, they throw candies into the crowds. Watching black children bending their backs to pick up candies scattered by whites made me feel uneasy. To me, Africa’s colonial history challenged the innocence of such a performance.
pendence on March 21 of that year. Some of them managed to carve out a new life for themselves, but for others the gap between their lifestyle at Schloss Bellin in Mecklenburg and that of their cattle farming families in Namibia’s arid to semi-arid regions was too wide for them to find a place in independent Namibia. They have become part of the over 50% unemployed and poor of the country. On your way to the Goethe Center in Windhoek, they tend to pick out Germans, asking them in perfect German for a donation for a DDR Kinder meeting, which you find out at the Christus Kirche is a sham, and you feel sorry for their fate.
After 20 years of independence, Namibia is one of the most politically stable African countries, despite its high rate of unemployment and a population of 13% (2009) affected by HIV/AIDS. There is now a small but growing black elite, who have taken on the material values of the rich Whites whom they have replaced in the government and are increasingly replacing in the economic sector as well. Nevertheless, most of the businesses are still in the hands of white people. Sadly enough, the black elites tend to be no better in terms of how they treat the black poor than the Whites did before them. It will be interesting to see how long it will take before the poor will rise up and challenge the privileges of this new elite, especially with a growing educated population. Namibians are in general aware that education is the key to progress; the number of students enrolled at the PolytechGermany’s involvement in Namibia’s nic of Namibia has grown from about 3,000 to history is also embodied in the presence of the 14,000 students since is official foundation in so-called DDR Kinder (GDR Children). When 1995. The German government sponsors the Namibian resistance party SWAPO (South scholarships and projects for the preservation West African People’s Organisation) was of the Namibian cultural heritage. There are fighting for independence from South African also four schools in Namibia with a regular exrule from the 1960s-1980s, the GDR offered to change program, and the classes at the Goetake about 400 Namibian children to educate the Center are always full. After my twothem as future freedom fighters. They were month sojourn, I felt that despite its conflicted sent back in 1990 no longer needed as gueril- history, Namibians and Germans have by-and las, because Namibia had gained its inde-large developed a viable symbiosis. 19
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Culture Morocco: Photo Series By Molly Homchenko Robotics Engineering â€˜15, HUA Morocco (Aâ€™12)
ABOVE: The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco, is the country's largest mosque which sits on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. King Hassan II specifically chose the location because he said 'God's throne is on the water' and he wanted the faithful to be able to come pray on the soil and 'contemplate God's sky and ocean'.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
ABOVE: Dying of leathers at the nine century old leather souq in Fez. A sight I'll never forget? Maybe more like a smell I will never forget. The leather souq in Fez is an amazing sight as long as you can get over the smell of the cow urine and pigeon poop that is used to break down the fibers which helps with the absorption of dyes. The souq is filled with vats of dye and men moving hides all over the place- the process is still the same as it was nine centuries ago.
LEFT: An artisan making a decorative metal border for a room in Fez. One of the most interesting parts of the Fez medina was seeing all of the artisans making their goods by hand. The amount of work that goes into a single piece, such as this metal border, is incredible.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
The Hassan Tower in Rabat is the incomplete minaret of a mosque which was designed to be the largest mosque in the world. However, construction ceased when the Sultan Yacoub al-Mansour died. Unlike other minarets, this one was designed with ramps instead of steps so that the muezzin could travel up the tower on horseback.
Experience Safari-ing Across Savannahs By Manisha Krishnan Biotechnology ‘16, Kenya (2007), from India
I immediately thought that someone had been shot, and I felt my heart jump into my throat. But looking around, I realized that it was just our car that had broken down in the wilderness for what seemed to be the fifth time that day. Weirdly enough, my heart settled back in my chest: there was something about the wilderness that made me feel at peace, instead of the stereotypical terrifying feeling that most people experienced. I watched as our driver, David, got down from the heavy-duty jeep to change the tires. As he went about doing what he had done at least a hundred times in his life, I caught something moving out of the corner of my eye. And then I saw the lion, about 20 feet away, rear its head up from the grass and fix our little band of tourists with a menacing stare. And I thought to myself: I love this place! It was true. I had been enraptured by Nairobi ever since I set foot on it. It was so different from the places people usually go to for tourism. The air was dusty and polluted, but under all that pollution, I could sense the adventure beckoning to everyone who dared to experience it. As we peeled away from the city and drove towards the savannahs, the roads became less congested and the people to animal ratio reversed. These animals were nothing like the lifeless ones I usually saw in the zoos back home; these animals were free spirits.
In Kenya, there is always a harmonious balance between traditional and modernity. I could walk from the posh confines of our resort into grassland within minutes. I would run into Masai people dressed in traditional garb and sporting hunting gear, who spoke perfect English. One example of this amalgamation between nature and civilization occurred on the night we stayed at Naivasha. I saw people nudging each other and pointing to the window, next to where I was watching TV in the lounge of the resort. When I turned around, imagine my surprise when I saw two rhinos walking around the garden inside the hotel! According to the hotel manager, this was a common occurrence in the resort, as the rhinos had a strange affinity for the herbs that were grown in the garden. Nowhere else in the world would you be able to see rhinos walking past you outside the window! I always felt like I was in limbo between two different worlds when I was there.
The most electrifying moment of our trip occurred on the fourth day of our travels. We had given up on seeing anything apart from the banal zebras, wildebeest and warthogs. When we were about to head back to our inn; David, our driver, received an excited crackle on his phone, telling him to hurry over east. When we reached the designated spot, at first we couldn’t see anything, except a few gazelle grazing peacefully. But then our driver pointed out the cheetah completely camouflaged in the yellowWe spent the whole time driving through ing grass, ready to strike. The next two minutes the rough terrain, marveling at this world that were easily the most exhilarating moments in my was cut away from civilization. Elephants ambled life. I watched, out of breath, as the cheetah past us, sometimes brushing their trunks against pounced out from hiding and ran swiftly to its our jeep in a friendly manner. The little ones evening meal. The poor gazelle didn’t stand a twined their trunks around the tails of the elders, chance. It probably didn’t even realize what hit seeking reassurance from them. Little warthogs it before life fled from its eyes. scurried around with their tails stuck high into the Though the whole scene was too gory for air. Wildebeest milled around in large herds, lazily me, I couldn’t help marveling at the way nature eyeing us while our jeep chugged along the worked. The death of one animal is vital for the dusty track. sustenance of the other. 25
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My time in Nairobi was full of such lifealtering epiphanies. But I never really thought deeply about what I experienced then, because the experience in itself had me so involved physically. The days were long and strenuous, all I had to eat everyday was raw vegetables and rice, and I would be indistinguishable from a roadside vagrant by the end of the day, as I would be caked in a layer of dust. Yet, despite all this, I
had a strange sense of contentment as I climbed into bed at night. I loved the adventure and the humble genuineness of the people. I loved returning to my primeval roots and just basking in the glory of nature. Kenya is a wonderful place for self-discovery, and a safari in the savannahs of Africa is easily one of the best experiences you can ever have.
ABOVE: Donal Boyd, Namibia D ‘12, “White Rhino” Okapuka Ranch is home to several white rhino, a humbling experience to be so close to such an enormous, yet peaceful and docile animal
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Experience Gross National Happiness in the Thunder Dragon By Saraj (Jetro) Pirasmepulkul Robotics Engineering ‘16, Bhutan (2011), from Thailand
Bhutan, also referred to as The Kingdom of
in Bhutan, organized by a fellow classmate, Nathaya Darakananda, from International the Thunder Dragon, is a country that has such a School Bangkok. During this trip, I was able to talk proud culture that, even a year after my visit, it to Mr. Dorji Penjore, the spokesperson for Bhuhas still left a profound impact on my view of this tan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH), and from so-called modernizing world that I have grown him, I came to understand more of the country’s up in. beauty that lies beneath the beautiful architecIn June 2011, I was fortunate enough to be ture or picturesque landscape. part of a summer community service experience
ABOVE: A snow lion relief decorating the Buddhist Kopan Nunnery in Kathmandu, Nepal. Taken by Colleen Callahan-Panday (2009).
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When I first heard of GNH, I discredited it, thinking that it is just an idealistic plan. But by the end of the trip, my view of it has been totally transformed. It is what left a profound impact on me from my trip to Bhutan. Upon arrival, I made several observations. First was the TibetanBuddhist architecture that is common throughout the town. Even the airport is built in this style. The people still chew beetle nuts, and wear the traditional robes called Ghos walking around town. There are also no big highways like I usually see in other countries, such as my own- Thailand. However, despite not having a great amount of modernity and pop culture like Thailand or the United States of America, I never viewed Bhutan as being poor at all. People have pride in themselves, walking around town in their Ghos and are happy with whatever they are doing. There are no beggars or homeless people lurking around on the streets. That is what motivated me to further explore the concept of GNH. I talked to Dorji Penjore and learnt that His Majesty, the King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the father of the present king of Bhutan, created this concept. For them, happiness does not come from the satisfying materialistic needs rather it comes from knowing that they have found a balance. The reason why I felt that H.M. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck is a visionary for creating the concept of GNH is in allowing his country to appear less “modernized” than a lot of other nations; he is actually preparing Bhutan for a solid foundation for development with sustainable future. For example, he allows modernization and globalization to assimilate in at a controllable rate so that the country and people can grow used to it. This contrasts with many other countries, such as my home Thailand, because although we Thais were quick to grasp on to so-called modernization, we were not able to manage it responsibly. This creates an ever widening gap between the rich and the poor, resulting in unruly cities with lots of crime and poverty. The very rich, with their wealth, try to chase on to the latest fashion to an extent that they no longer think and reflect about their rate of consumption. Yet, at the same time, this leaves the country its “tail” dragging far behind, too meager to ever catch up.
In Bhutan, while playing soccer with a group of kids, all of them could communicate with us clearly in English. Yet, when I look back upon my own country, I shockingly realize that the majority of Thai kids cannot even communicate in English. With its ginormous shopping malls, skyscrapers and vibrant nightlife, we cannot even fulfill the most basic requirement of preparing our kids for globalization. But the seemingly humble Bhutan already has. According to Dorji Penjore, they do not block western influences. People see western culture in the media all the time. For example, when he was a teenager, he also wore jeans and tried to follow western fashion. But as he grew older, he felt that his Bhutanese heritage is valuable and has greater importance to him. Which is why he chose to wear the Gho. During my stay, I had comfortable access to technology and conveniences, such as being able to watch television in a nice resort with a hot shower. There is just not an excessive amount. This is a good thing, at least for me. The more I learn about Bhutan, the more I am able to relate to my conversations with Dorji Penjore and fully appreciate H.M. the King’s vision that sometimes, in order to take a great leap forward, he has to prepare his country and people for enough time to handle the upcoming change responsibly. From this, I believe that GNH is a really practical concept. GNH is not an ideal at all, but is a careful and holistic outlook on an already practiced way of life that seeks to find true identity. Since the people of Bhutan know their true identity and are proud of it then that is why their country can have gross national happiness. In Bhutan, I may have found the ShangriLa I have heard people talk about. It seems almost like a legend or myth perhaps. For me, it is beyond just the picturesque valleys or glacier streams, the numerous Buddhist Dzongs, and a country constructed entirely with Tibetan Buddhist architecture. It is discovering how the Bhutanese people can really follow the Gross National Happiness way of life, which gave me the opportunity to reflect upon myself. Have I, a young adult born in this materialistic 21st century, allowed myself to discover what my real identity is? One that I can be proud of and give me true happiness, like the Bhutanese? Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Apartheid and Togetherness in a C
Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary and G
ABOVE: Buried, coloured and white, the dead are visited by the liv together, in cryptic intimac
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Cemetery in Darling, South Africa
Global Studies Division, Cape Town (Dâ€™12)
ving, the living haunted and sustained by the dead, separate and cies, alienations, mysteries.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Experience Bond By Monolina Binny Biology and Biotechnology ‘14, from Bangladesh
A bond of fleeting to enduring, The limerence, love and liking,
It is the balance of hope and uncertainty, Binding Contract and all that formality, The bliss of proximity Or that social loyalty, On the context of family, friend and matrimony? And the bereavement of being away; Connections to work, clubs or just acquaintance, It is the strong secure With my root, Or the assurance of confidence? The vivid colors of my culture: You see, my saree is not To me, it is that sparkle in the eye Subdued hues of grey and white, When the mother first holds her baby It is vibrant, It is the loquacious little daughter, Taking the form of a rainbow; Eminent for her chatter, It is the wind which blow On her father’s knees, The fragrance of the rye fields, Sharing her thoughts and feelings, It is the melody of the flutes Rather influencing him to get candies; Beyond the woods, The ambivalent relationship with your brother Beyond the mountains With the war and love altogether, Dyadic friendships of unconditional acceptance Of that shepherd boy Playing in his joy. Laughter on silly affairs. My bonds are my song: “The love is in the air, The passion rages. The energy of purity… Sparks flood… Rauthaz of spectral stars Paint the roses”
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It is ties with painting, It is my ties with singing, It is my ties with dancing, It is my eternal love for chocolates, It is not just some hand shakes And some hello’s and hi’s, It is my ties with myself.
Civil Engineering ‘12, IQP London (D’11)
captured this moment after watching the Red Bull "Art of Motion" event taking place just by the River Thames with a few friends. We were walking across the bridge on our way to the nearest Tube station and the lighting for the photo looked perfect. I stood back from the group for a few minutes to snap a few night shots. With the London Eye in the background, one of the biggest must see attractions, I think this captured the atmosphere of the night well.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Experience A Snapshot of Namibian Culture By Patrick Ford Environmental Engineering ‘13, Namibia (D ‘12)
What defines a culture and a nation? Is it
the infrastructure, the language, the food, the landscapes, the history? For me, a culture and a nation can be defined largely by one thing, and that’s the people who live there and represent its ideals. This is because culture, which is held within every one of us in a unique way, is a manifestation of
Our Group with Community Members.
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all of the experiences and encounters that we have had in our lifetimes. I would like now to describe my experience in Namibia, and specifically the people that I was fortunate enough to interact with during my stay in the country during March and April of 2012.
Namibia has an extremely diverse population due to its history, and there seems to be an underlying value of pride that drives the actions of each of its citizens.
susvlei, to outlooks where we could watch the sun set over the entire city and the adjacent mountain range. While in Sossusvlei, we camped out in the dessert, and enjoyed a typical braai dinner accompanied by a concert from Shishani, an upcoming artist in Namibia who traveled with us. We spent the nights staring at the stars and spent the mornings wondering how it got so cold in the dessert that was nearly 100o the day before.
The first experience that I can recall was our group’s trip to the rural farming villages of Gründorn South and Nico Noord. The citizens of these southern communities primarily spoke the Damara language. Despite the fact that we could not speak any of the language outside of hello and thank you, they still managed to make us smile Another smaller encounter that I will and laugh with their stories and their never never forget was with a local crafts vendor. ending work ethic. As we interviewed each Every weekend, the streets surrounding a of the families and worked with them to local park would be filled with people sellconstruct a waste sorting center in their ing arts and crafts. Each weekend in which community, men, women, and children we did not travel, we would typically spend went out of their way to a couple of hours looking be hospitable and to at all of the goods for sou“…. If there is one thing that I will help us, even though venirs with which to rethey often had so little in always remember about this trip, it is member our trip. One day, terms of material posses- that everyone has a story to tell, and Donal Boyd and myself chances are they want to share sions. were shopping as usual theirs and hear yours.” and met a woman who Secondly, our trip was selling dyed tapestries to Etosha National Park that we could not find anwas filled with great ywhere else. We returned to her several memories, both due to the people and the times throughout our trip, and ended up natural landscape. While there, we saw purchasing way more from her than we evcountless zebra, lion, giraffes, and eleer planned to, in part due to the quality of phants, and even got a rare look at three the goods, but also because of the friendliblack rhinos at the watering hole at night. In ness and pride in her work that she showed addition, we could hear the roar of the lions in the distance as we fell asleep each night to us. On our last trip to her area, we took a picture with her, and she gave each of us a in our tents. While in the park, we enjoyed small gift. I have kept it, a small wooden an Easter meal consisting of several different types of meat as well as some local fa- carving of a cheetah, on my desk at home, as a constant reminder of what true happivorites for desert. ness really is, and just how much of an imAnother memorable trip was our jour- pact such a small act of kindness can have. ney to Sossusvlei. This was one of our best In the end, we were able to meet a trips, because nearly our entire group travlot of amazing people throughout our time eled there, and we did so on a tour with in Namibia, but if there is one thing that I will Winslow. Winslow became a good friend and showed us many different parts of Na- always remember about this trip, it is that everyone has a story to tell, and chances mibia throughout our seven weeks in the country, from well known areas such as Sos- are they want to share theirs and hear yours. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Culture La Vaca Enamorada By Aarti S. Madan Assistant Professor of Spanish, Humanities and Arts, Argentina (E ‘12)
I’m the Project Center Director for WPI’s
the Southern Cone and brought air travel to a Buenos Aires Language and Culture Immersion in screeching halt. This year was different. I could continue Argentina, which takes place every summer durwith any number of clichés to describe our idyllic ing E-Term. For 2011’s trip I’d scheduled Iguazú escape to the Cataratas de Iguazú, which I Falls as the proverbial grand finale, the icing on our Argentine torta, my way of ending on a high scheduled early in the trip for fear of yet another note. Instead, we ended on the lowest of low as natural disaster impinging upon our plans. Yet it couldn’t have more beautiful or perfect or easy. an ash cloud from Puyehue (a Chilean volcano Or quirky. dormant for precisely 50 years and 1 week before our scheduled trip) blanketed the skies of
Iguazú Falls, Argentina 35
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I knew, at least on the surface, exactly what I was getting us into. But what happened with our June 23, 2012 post-Iguazú-no-volcanoesthis-year-celebration dinner simply took my planning to new heights. Some background: I’ve learned that eating out is often better if you read reviews, be it in Worcester or Timbuktu. So prior to embarking for Iguazú I looked up about ten or so restaurants that we might hit. One of them in particular stood out. According to Trip Advisor, the #1 restaurant in Puerto Iguazú was then and is currently La Vaca Enamorada, loosely translated as The Enamored Cow. Beyond the name itself, I was astonished by the number of reviews from patrons in addition to responses from the owner. The first reviews and responses were in Spanish, most dating from the weeks preceding our visit. The owner’s writing hinted at a garrulous man, indeed quite the character. I kept reading. Upon arriving to the English reviews, I realized that the dear proprietor was using Google Translator. Some gems immediately drew me in. What follows is an excerpt from my favorite: In LA VACA ENAMORA we are extremely grateful for his criticism which truly exceeds our expectations to meet your harmonious and delicate taste. Now is the time to find and decode the letters ... the game ... indeed, in this response I am relieving some of the secrets of our mission. • For us the meeting of two diametrically opposed cultures, gastronomically and idiomatically is extremely seductive and power at stake, leaving only the human factor reduced to the essential and interact without language assistance is wonderful, and I reiterate that avails the human where both parties leave the best referee the final word .... Who is your palate as it was. • While the lasagna tasted a Trumpeter Malbec, deliberately put them very gently Andrea Bocelli Vivo Per Lei, as you know this issue celebrates the music and in our case the flavors. • To watch them play freely as we discovered the details of the decoration of our house, taking pictures and watching them as they were fascinated by capturing images, we are already paying more than they should for their care. • Being at 50 meters from the Gastronomic traditionally is not a penalizing factor, rather motivating, where differences are enhanced. • No doubt for us your critique is very important as all others, in particular the anti distinguishes valence and makes it quite unique and
genuine is to have left things to make themselves naturally and achievement is on both sides. In this recognition will undoubtedly TRIAPAVISOR team as well you will trust in the impartial arbitrator choose to attend LA VACA ENAMORA. • While we share this moment so sweet, PACO DE LUCIA accompanies me with his virtuosity .. and better .... and I am revealing my noble origins ANDALUCES. To close I trust the translator for a computer that has the sensitivity appealing language to translate my note, just as we use it at the end of the evening and it was as a courtesy to say goodbye warmly of you. Thank you very much and happy here in LA VACA ENAMORA known if any. Vaca Enamorada? How about Profesora Enamorada? So much so that I conducted a dramatic reading for the lovely ladies participating in the immersion. I hoped that they too would feel the need to meet this character at once. After all, he so very much desired communication—their ultimate goal for this trip—that he appealed to new media in ways I’d never before seen. It’s not that he’s just using Google Translator to reply to TripAdvisor reviews; rather, he explains in the above response that he uses it in
La Vaca Enamorada—the Enamored Cow— logo from Juan Alberto’s website
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
person. Can you imagine your waiter setting his computer down on your table as you finish your last sips of espresso? And having an insanely poetic conversation with him as you both type away? I had to meet this guy. Much to my delight, they were in. And that’s when our adventure really started. A bright green decoupage cow in the restaurant’s window greeted us upon our arrival. The mustached owner/waiter Juan Alberto gave us a hearty welcome, and we chose a table in the back corner. Here’s the highlight reel: 1) One member of our party ordered the ñoquis, handcrafted in house by Lili, Juan Alberto’s wife. Juan Alberto beamed with delight, flapped his wings and fluttered around while exclaiming that the consumer of said gnocchi was sure to fly like a dove after eating them (rather than feeling dead weights in his belly). 2) Juan Alberto pulled up a chair as we ordered. While complimenting our Spanish, he commented that he couldn’t speak English very well. He did, however, speak French fluently. He’d spent 60 days in jail in Zaire, where he was working for an NGO as some sort of tractor repairman. The government unfortunately believed he was disseminating Communist propaganda like any other sixties-era Latin American (read: sarcasm) and promptly arrested him. But he learned French in jail. So all good. 3) Somewhere through the middle of our long foodless night—everything is cooked fresh and therefore s l o w l y—Juan Alberto requested that I translate “Gracias por jugar” for a British couple dining at the front of the restaurant. I then remembered reading the phrase on his TripAdvisor profile: “thanks for playing,” his signature adieu. And play we did: a parrillada and fries for the girls, gnocchi for the boy, and a great deal of bread for everyone. 4) Finally, what a businessman. With his steadfast banter and commentary on life, it was easy to disregard Juan Alberto’s constant dealmaking. First he reduced the price for the parrillada that he insisted we order, then he reduced my bottle of wine to a scant $35 AR (about $8 USD), and he closed by serving us two delicious desserts on the house (a panqueque de dulce de leche along with a poached pear topped with coulis). 37
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I joked at some point that he was going to request a TripAdvisor review. AND HE DID! Brilliant, right? He’s ranked #1 out of 39 Puerto Iguazú restaurants, and he’s only been open since March 2012. Yes, the food is good, quite good in fact, but it’s his personality, his business acumen, and his will to communicate that ultimately convince patrons to write a review. As with his TripAdvisor responses, Juan Alberto’s respect for communication is clear in the above examples. In the first he flaps his wings and flutters around, acting out his words with gestures. Any language teacher will telling you such skills are absolutely essential to maintaining an English-free classroom. In the second he expresses satisfaction regarding his stint in jail; at least he walked away communicating in French. In the third scenario he finds a way to communicate with the Brits—in other words, through me, the resident translator. And finally, in the fourth example he communicates by means of that ageless and borderless custom: the giving of gifts. I always encourage my Argentina students to bring a little something for their homestay parents, a token of goodwill and gratitude that they can share either at the beginning or the end of their trip. I realize now that what I’m suggesting is a willingness to relate. To communicate is, in effect, the most shared element of the human condition; it creates community. One student’s homestay father, Hugo, often posed discussion topics for their meals, such as “What would a world without borders be like?” or “What will happen to language in 400 years?” Whether we’re all living on Mother Earth as resident humans rather than resident Argentines or resident Americans or what have you, whether we’re all speaking one common language: we’ll still need to find ways to communicate, to share our ideas, to get them out of our heads through acting, speaking, doing, writing. That’s what I took away from Juan Alberto and La Vaca Enamorada. Since that strange night in which we literally walked through a cloud on our return to the Jasy Hotel, I’ve found myself wondering: did my girls go along for the ride because I give them a grade or because they genuinely wanted to go? I’ll probably never know the answer, but whatever the case, I’m happy— and truthfully surprised—that the waterfalls had a competitor for a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Puerto Iguazú.
Culture Thailand: Photo Series By Abby Albright Chemical Engineering â€˜12, Thailand (C â€˜11)
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Project Costa Rica: Education for Sustainable Living By Caitlin Swalec Biochemistry â€˜16, Costa Rica (2010)
From the ocean a dark shape slowly
my data collection notebook. The turtle trudges forth, approaching the rainforest, emerges, silhouetted by bursts of lightning. which sprouts from the sand like an overShrieks of capuchins and toucans echo grown garden. When she detects a safe each clap of thunder as the mysterious fignesting location, the ritual begins. I squint ure drags itself up the beach. Flap-thump, flap-thump, flap-thump. Recognizing the dis- through the darkness, fascinated; typical Maine grown girls do not witness events like tinctive sound of flippers on wet sand, I squirm with excitement, ruffling the pages of this. The turtle uses her flippers like shovels to
Baby sea turtles making their way from their nest to the ocean... 41
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dig a deep pit, carelessly flinging sand through the air. With exhausted grunts, she heaves her body into position. Glassy, white eggs, like enormous marbles, appear between her back flippers and drop into the nest, one by one. Last summer I travelled to the Pacuare Reserve in Costa Rica for a research trip. I traded sleepless nights for the opportunity to collect field data on nesting leatherback sea turtles. Conducting my own research project gave me invaluable experience as a scientist. As I collaborated with biologists, conservationists, and researchers who had travelled to Pacuare from all over the world, I embraced the chance to explore other cultures, trading pictures of my family and recipes from home with my new companions. In hindsight, sharing my research project with local students was the most extraordinary part of the trip. The schools that I visited had few resources compared to my own school. Basic necessities such as paper, desks, and textbooks were scarce. Nevertheless, students listened attentively to my presentation and requested every detail of my project. I was surprised to learn that many of the studentsâ€™ parents previously had poached turtle eggs. The volunteers explained that for generations the lack of edu-
cation in these remote areas had left adults unprepared for any careers outside of manual labor. As a supplement to their paltry incomes, many men resorted to poaching and other illegal activities. Accordingly, a primary initiative of the Pacuare researchers, one that I have adopted for myself, is to share education. They pursue this goal by presenting research projects and teaching lessons on science, mathematics, language, and history in local schools. By sharing my own research, I contributed in my own way to the education of these underprivileged students. Their education will empower them as adults to find better, more rewarding, more sustainable jobs. Many of the parents who formerly worked as poachers have been recruited by volunteers at the Pacuare Reserve to save the endangered leatherback turtle by training and working as researchers and as guards against other poachers. Community involvement has fostered a positive relationship between the local inhabitants of Pacuare and the researchers at the Reserve. The reformed poachersâ€™ zeal for involvement in our project provides all the reassurance that we, the volunteers, need in order to trust that our efforts to educate will significantly impact individualsâ€™ futures. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Experience My Trip to Thailand By Sean Gile Environmental Engineering ‘13, Thailand (C ‘12)
During my lifetime, I have been on several
trips around the world. I have seen areas such as the Caribbean, Switzerland, France, Italy, and over 30 states in our own country. Having travelled to all of these different sections of the world, it is difficult to compare them to the experiences I had during my time in Thailand. The opportunity presented itself to me in 2010 when I was faced with the application to study abroad for my IQP. After visiting all of the potential sites and locations where I could study, Thailand stuck out as a place with all different opportunities to explore a culture that is so different from our own. Once I received the notice in the mail that I had been selected for the Bangkok site in Thailand, I immediately began preparing for an adventure with many uncertainties. Looking back on my time in Thailand, the only regret I have from the site is not having more time to explore the less seen parts of the country. It is difficult to know where to begin in describing another country as diverse as Thailand. Each aspect of life is different, whether it is the food, the religion, or even something as simple as the general demeanor of the people. The easiest way to explain my trip is to go through the highlights of my experiences. Food Do you like seafood? Have you ever eaten a fish that looks at you? Perhaps you have eaten shrimp with the legs and head still attached? No? Well, not only is this the type of food eaten by Thai people, it is consumed for three meals a day, every day. At first, I found it difficult just to look at, never mind actually eat it. After about three weeks of attempting to avoid eating the food, one of my group partners blindfolded me and fed me the food I had been dreading to allow anywhere near my mouth. As soon as I tasted the deep-fried river 43
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Lunch in Kanchanaburi prawn, I instantly regretted not trying the food earlier. The seafood in Thailand is fresher than any seafood I have ever tried. Each area in Thailand has their own twist on food and different spices that they put in the food. To anyone who reads this, my advice is to try whatever is put in front of you and close your eyes if you have to. I promise that the fish and shrimp served in the United States are incomparable to the fish and shrimp found in Thailand. It was worth every bite and I encourage anyone who reads this to not judge what you see by the looks and try whatever is put in front of you. Buddhism Buddhism accounts for 95% of the population found in Thailand and it produces some of the most beautiful architecture in the world. If you were to drive across Thailand, you would see thousands of Buddhist temples. On every temple, whether it is the King’s temple in Bangkok, or the local temple found in a small village in Kanchanaburi, there are beautiful depictions of Buddha and amazingly intricate designs woven inside and out on each temple. If you ever find yourself in Thailand, these are sites that cannot be missed.
Geography For a country that is roughly the size of Texas, the geography of Thailand is incredibly diverse. Everything from tropical rain forests with beautiful waterfalls and roaming elephants, to the plains north of Bangkok where much of the worlds rice is grown, can be found. The beaches found in the eastern and southern parts of the country are picturesque and stunning beyond imagination. During our time in one of these tropical locations, we were able to ride elephants through the jungle and interact with the local people, whose families have been inhabiting the area for more
than a thousand years. Because I was studying abroad, I did not get to spend all of my time in these types of locations, but we were able to take some weekend trips when we found time. If you are given the opportunity, turning it down would be a huge mistake. In writing this, I tried to present as much of a picture as I could about Thailand. My personal experiences are extensive and 1000 words is not enough to describe my entire time there. I hope this helps you understand Thailand a little better, and if you ever find yourself there one day, my advice is never say â€œnoâ€? to anything.
Buddhist statues, Wat Po Temple, Bangkok Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Experience Take Every Opportunity That You Can! By Jessica Colon Management Engineering ‘13, Argentina (E ‘12)
Buenos Aires has so much to offer in terms
of history, natural beauty, culture and the people, it would be a shame not to see it all. However, I knew we wouldn’t be able to in the few weeks we had for our summer study, but we tried as best we could. In order to experience as much as possible, I decided that I couldn’t go to the same place twice, I needed to take as many pictures as possible, and I couldn’t say no to any opportunities that arose. During my first week in Argentina, one of my favorite experiences was the Estancia la Candelaria, a ranch named after Don Orestes Piñeiro’s wife, located in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. The pampas, or the plains, was like a desert of green taking over your view. The change from the city atmosphere to a gorgeous view was overwhelming to say the least. It truly gave the sense of what it was like to be a gaucho, or cowboy, in the 1800s. With all the men and women from the ranch dressed in the clothing from way back when, touring the castle furnished with one of a kind pieces, observing the different dance steps during the gaucho show, riding horses through trails in the mini forest, tasting and even making the food, and watching all the games, you couldn’t help but become absorbed in all that history had to offer—it was the best of history lessons. My favorite part of the day was during a demonstration of popular games the 45
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gauchos used to play on horseback. The first one they showed us was a race between two men discovering who had the most accuracy and speed. They each held a pencil sized stick while riding their horse, going as fast as they could. As they would approach a metal bar with two strings holding a small half dollar-sized ring, they would stand up while still riding and try to get the stick through the ring, thus retrieving the rings. The first person to do this or the person to get a ring at all would win. The gauchos would then give a ring to a woman in the crowd of people watching in exchange for a kiss on the cheek. One asked if there was any woman in particular that wanted a ring and my hand immediately shot up! I mean, who doesn’t want a nice little souvenir?
The Gaucho Games
La Bombonera: La Boca vs Arsenal
Another highlight of my first week was attending a soccer game. Not just any soccer game because the popular team in the area, Boca Juniors, was playing. It was a pretty pricey deal to go to this game but this is where I could not say no. Soccer around the world is more popular than any other sport. How could I give up the chance to experience a soccer game in another country? The enthusiasm that spread through the crowd to support the eleven people on the field was unlike any support I had ever seen. The constant singing throughout the entire game, the people getting louder when they wanted something to happen, the profanity flying out of peoples’ mouths when something went wrong, was the most interesting display of pride. After the unfortunate loss of the Boca Juniors to Arsenal, the fans weren’t even upset. As we walked down the steps of the stadium to exit, they ALL continued to sing once again until leaving the stadium. Each and every person knew the chants and it was obvious that they were passionate
about expressing their love for the Boca Juniors. I was a little sad I wasn’t able to see the reaction of the crowd when a ‘GOL!’ was made but it was still definitely worth it. I think that just means I will have to attend another soccer game! La Bomba de Tiempo, or the Time Bomb, was another interesting show we attended. We arrived a little late but just in time to see these men slowly control the mood of the crowd. Gradually picking up the pace then eventually creating fast moving and amazing sounding beats with more than 10 drums and other instruments, they made the crowd go crazy. The mix of foreigners and natives made the show even better. There were no words but just everyone in the crowd clapping and moving to the beat. Many of the people that had suggested this show to us said it was so great that they had to go more than once. I’m not sure if I will return but I am so glad I did go! In addition to seeing incredible places, we also came to Argentina to learn more Spanish. Even with both my parents speaking Spanish growing up, I have never been fluent. I can understand it, read it and write it, but when it comes to speaking, that’s a different story. Coming to a country where I need to rely on the Spanish that I do know but not necessarily be able to articulate everything I want to say has been quite challenging and even frustrating at times. From the support of others I have learned that having some patience, practicing when I can, and learning how to just let go of what others think will be the only way I will be able to eventually become fluent. I guess if a language was so easy to learn more people would take the time to do it, right? Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Culture Building Cultural Understanding One Meal at a Time By Rick Vaz Dean, Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division
Each year WPI becomes a more multicultur-
friendly BYOB setting for over 30 years. Try the Paul Mac Special, a sauté of pasta, broccoli, al community as we welcome new students, chicken, and mozzarella in a garlicky sauce. staff, and faculty from around the world to Worcester’s restaurant scene also reWorcester while expanding student and faculflects the influence of more recent immigrants. ty opportunities at our global network of ProWorcester sports no less than nine Vietnamese ject Centers. One of the ways that the WPI restaurants thanks to the influx of Vietnamese community can embrace residents in the last forty years. multiculturalism in its own Dalat (425 Park Avenue) is one “Sometimes, better underbackyard is by taking adstanding is just a meal away.” of the oldest and most reliable, vantage of Worcester’s resoffering great value and a wide taurants, many of which revariety. For starters, try the flect the ethnic heritage of crispy spring rolls or fresh garden rolls, and folthe city’s residents. low up with a steaming bowl of pho, Vietnam’s In the late 19th and early 20th century, signature noodle soup. Redolent with herbs Italian families migrated to Worcester seeking and adorned with duck, chicken, or beef, a opportunity. Nowhere is this more evident bowl of pho is a satisfying and inexpensive than Shrewsbury Street, which is lined with resfeast. Another good choice is the more uptaurants reflecting Italian heritage. At the top scale Pho Dakao (593 Park Avenue), which end, Via (89 Shrewsbury Street) is a stylish spot places an emphasis on atmosphere, service, featuring a wide-ranging menu and a variety and presentation. Try some goi (salads) or bun of dining spaces including a heated patio. (vermicelli topped with grilled meats and While the menu at Via reflects American dining herbs). habits, the tastes are genuinely Italian thanks to Since the early 20th century, Worcester well-sourced ingredients and a tightly-run kitchhas been home to immigrants from Armenia, en. Their pizzas are exceptional, as are the Lebanon, and other countries in the Middle pork and seafood dishes. Another solid upEast. As a result, Middle Eastern dining options scale choice is Piccolo’s, set in a former bank abound. If you enjoy the food at WPI’s neighat 157 Shrewsbury Street. With its subdued bor Sahara (143 Highland Street), you might lighting and slightly cheesy soundtrack, Piccobranch out with a visit to Shiraz (259 Park Avelo’s makes you think you’ve stumbled on the nue) to try Armenian specialties such as bamob’s favorite spot. The kitchen, however, is baganoush (eggplant and tahini spread), very creative and talented, turning out memolehmajun (a disc of dough topped with spiced rable homemade pasta dishes. meat), yalanchi (vegetarian stuffed Shrewsbury Street is also home to a numgrapeleaves), or lamb kebabs. Across the ber of more casual and inexpensive spots feastreet you’ll find a branch of the popular El Baturing Italian-American food. Many Worcestersha (256 Park Avenue), serving up Lebanese ites hold that the venerable Wonder Bar (121 versions of these dishes in a more upscale atShrewsbury Street) serves the best pizza in mosphere. town, and they also turn out all the standards For a taste of Japan, you cannot beat such as veal and eggplant parmigiana, sausage, and meatballs. Down the road, Mac’s a trip to Baba (309 Park Avenue), an awardDiner (185 Shrewsbury Street) has been serving winning restaurant serving exceptionally fresh up good-value pasta meals in a laid-back but and inventive variations on sushi and sashimi. 47
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Owner Wilson Wang may be Chinese, but he knows his sushi. Try his famous oyster shooter, some yellowtail sashimi, and the chef’s salad sampler, or dig into any of the dozens of maki rolls. More sushi awaits you just down the road at Haiku (258 Park Avenue) , offering good value sushi and sashimi plus a wide range of cooked items. Craving a taste of India? Surya (299 Shrewsbury Street) serves up authentically fiery curries, fresh breads, and other northern Indian treats. Just across Lake Quinsigamond into Shrewsbury on Route 9, India Cafe (84 Boston Turnpike) offers a generous luncheon buffet plus all the appetizers, main courses, and tandoor-cooked meats you’d expect. Most of WPI’s Chinese students and employees probably already know that they need to leave town (or cook at home) to get reasonably authentic Chinese food. In Framingham, about 20 minutes to the east, you can find both Red Pepper (17 Edgell Road) and Sichuan Gourmet (271 Worcester Road). Sichuan Gourmet is a bit more upscale, and Red Pepper’s menu a bit more adventurous, but both locations serve up fiery versions of food from Sichuan province, balancing the sharp heat of fresh and dried chilis with the numbing tingle of Sichuan peppercorns. Most of the clientele in both spots are Chinese, which is an excellent sign of
good things to come. For a cultural experience out of the ordinary, head to One Love (800 Main Street) to sample Venice Fouchard’s homemade Jamaican food, served in a homey and welcoming atmosphere. Her jerk chicken and curried goat are famous, and not for the faint of heart. One Love features lots of vegetarian options, and their BYOB policy helps keep the cost down. It’s the kind of place you might fall in love with. Worcester has a sizable contingent of Brazilian residents, and you can get a taste of Brazil at Pampas Churrascaria (145 East Central Street). Like most churrascarias, they offer a wide variety of freshly fire-roasted meats accompanied by a copious bar or salads and side dishes. You pay for your meat by the ounce, and again, BYOB. Finally, Pomir Grill at 119 Shrewsbury Street is one of Worcester’s newest and most intriguing restaurants, featuring Afghani cuisine in a stylish setting. The flatbread and dips are an addictive start, and entrees feature lamb, pumpkin, eggplant, and chicken, distinctively spiced and attractively served. Afghanistan is rarely in the news for happy reasons these days, but at Pomir Grill you can learn a little about Afghani culture through its cuisine and warm hospitality. Sometimes, better understanding is just a meal away.
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ABOVE: Student painting of the legendary Himalayan Yeti on the door to the library of the Khumjung Secondary School in Sargarmatha (Everest) National Park, Nepal. The school was founded by the first man to summit Mt. Everest, Edmund Hillary, in 1961. Taken by Colleen Callahan-Panday (2009)