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his month the Editorial Team from Unpacked wants you to “Say NO to ‘shoe-boxing!’” Before you think I’ve lost my mind, let me explain. “Shoe-boxing” is a metaphor for putting away your feelings and memories of an experience once you return, particularly from a trip abroad. It comes from the idea that some people store special mementos in small (shoe-type) boxes, stuffed away in the back of their closets, hopefully to be rediscover much later on, but in the meantime the memories gather dust and stay hidden. Often people put these memories away because when they return from an important experience other people might be interested to hear details of the trip for a little while, but often your enthusiasm for sharing stories might be far stronger than your friends’ and family’s willingness to listen. Have you ever returned from an exciting experience and after a few days your friends say, “Yeah, great… but let’s talk about something else now...” This can feel extremely frustrating, even alienating. You are not alone! Many a traveler has suffered this fate. It is an unfortunate part of the re-entry experience. However, here at Unpacked we don’t want you to hide your stories and photos away… we want to be the place for you to share! We are a community of people interested in and eager for your details. This month we have a great collection of memories—photos of desert adventures, musings on what it means to belong, tips on enjoying a chocolate and cheese loving culture, and snapshots of life in the streets of South Asia—all experiences that were remembered, shared, and enjoyed again upon the retelling of the tale or captioning of a great photo or artwork. Please enjoy this issue of Unpacked—our third!—and remember... the next time you return from a journey, don’t just hide away your photos and stories after a few days. Send them to and you may be featured in our next issue! Colleen Callahan-Panday, Editor-in-Chief Assistant Director, International Students and Scholars Editorial Board: Ulrike Brisson (Humanities & Arts), Erin Koontz (IGSD), Julie Wilson (IGSD), Sakshi Khurana (‘16), Ruolin Zhou (M’14).

Do you have something to submit for unpacked Spring 2014? a

Submissions, questions and comments/letters-to-the-editor can be sent to a

For more information visit: a

Next submission deadline: February 9, 2014 @ midnight

ON THE COVER: One of Melissa Belz’s photos from her series on India “Shooting from the Hip.” To see the full photograph and more of her work see page 7.


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3 Original Artwork Naumilda Çomo ‘17 5 The Idea of Belonging Narimane Khaled ‘14 7 Shooting from the Hip (India: Photo Series) Melissa Belz, Assistant Teaching Professor, Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division 15 Changa Chet! Colleen Callahan-Panday, Assistant Director, International Students and Scholars 18 Grenada Aleshia Carlsen-Bryan, Assistant Director of Academic Advising and Pre-Professional Programs 19 12 Ways to Swiss Bliss Thomas Meagher ‘15 21 Valley of Fire, Nevada: Photo Series Philip Clay, Dean of Students 27 September 11 at the Oasis Peter Hansen, Director of International Studies, Associate Professor of Humanities and Arts 28 Namibia: Photo Series Christopher Sontag ‘14 34 The Bride of Niagara: A Sonnet Victoria Loehle ‘17 35 Collection of Color: Photo Series Matthew Simmers M’16 41 Revisiting Kuwait Krisha Nazareth ‘16 43 Morocco and China: Photo Series Tahar El-Korchi, Department Head and Professor of Civil Engineering 47 Namibia: Photo Series Marissa Goerke ‘14

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Original Artwork By Naumilda Çomo Architectural Engineering ’17, from Pogradec, Albania

ABOVE: Breathing home. RIGHT: This represents America, the land of opportunities. I first traveled to America as an international student at WPI in August of 2013.


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The Idea of Belonging By Narimane Khaled Aerospace Engineering ‘14, from Algeria

oving to the most multi-cultural country in the world sounded scary. It was frightening to pack my bags without knowing when I would return to my homeland. When I was thirteen years old, I moved to the United States from Algeria. Even though I moved with my parents and siblings, it felt like I was still missing some of my family since to me, family includes my grandparents, uncles, and aunts. Unlike the rest of the trips we took as a family, where we knew by the end of the vacation everything would go back to the way it was, this time we had to adjust to a new environment that would be our new home. The interesting thing about moving to a new country is that you do not notice that you have changed until you go back to your homeland. You do not even notice you changed the first time you go back, but rather the second or third time. Regardless of my American citizenship, I would always refer to myself as a pure Algerian. I was born and raised there, I spoke the language perfectly, and most of all, I practiced the Algerian culture. To me, that was enough to be a true-blooded Algerian, and that was the case the first time I went back to Algeria in 2008; I fit in perfectly and it was like I never left the country. However, the second and third time I visited it hit me; I no longer belonged to this place I always referred to as home. I no longer shared the same ideas as its people, and they even started seeing me differently and referring to me as an American. I guess they had the idea that the longer I lived in America the more I belonged to America. I came back to America from my second visit to Algeria in 2010 thinking deeply about what happened and analyzing the idea of belonging. I concluded that I am a true Algerian, not just because of my ethnicity, but because of who I am. Over the years I was not living there, things changed in the Algerian society and I changed as well. I also realized that living in the US with nearly every ethnicity known, it is easy to lose oneself, but I did not. I might have been 5

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confused at times and overwhelmed deciding who I was, who the people around me were, and where I belonged. But I have learned how to be myself in this world that is constantly trying to make me something else, and according to Ralph Waldo Emerson, that “is the greatest accomplishment.” The deeper I analyzed the situation, the more I understood there is no such thing as belonging to a place; we are all travelers who seek new exotic places, and we have the freedom to pick any place as our home. Once I realized that, I started seeing that regardless of how countries differ from each other-economically, politically, or militarily--it is the people who make up the country that matter, and in the end we are all humans striving for the same things. There are good and bad people in each country, and learning to not only distinguish that, but to also understand it and see it happening changes the way we view life. In the summer of 2012, I visited Algeria for the third time, but with this different perspective. As I stepped off the plane, I felt at home. Throughout my stay in Algeria, I was myself and took advantage of the country’s magnificent sights, which meant so much

more to me. Similar to other countries, some Algerians take the country’s sights for granted because they live there. But since I am Algerian and live in America, I get the advantage to visit both places and see things that the locals do not see. It amazes me how many people in America do not know where Algeria is, or confuse it for Nigeria. Algeria is a country in North Africa on the Mediterranean coast, and yes, it snows in Algeria. It is the largest country in Africa and tenthlargest country in the world. Algeria has 48 provinces and 1,541 communes. It is known for its great history that involves the Numidian Berbers,

Roman and Ottoman Empires, Arab Umayyads, and French colonies. When I look at the Algerian land, I see my great, great grandparents’ history and mine; that alone was enough to know I belong there. I have learned that belonging is not about where you live or where you were born or raised, but it is about who you are as a person. As a person who grew up in two different countries, I am glad to say I belong to Algeria, America, and to the other countries I have yet to visit and mingle with their people.

ABOVE: Bejaia Province, Algeria, summer 2012. Bejaia is the city where I was born and raised. It was known by different European names: Budschaja in German, Bugia in Italian, and Bougie in French. The last two names mean candle, because of the province’s wax trade. Bejaia is the largest city in Algeria’s Kabylian region, and it was first inhabited by Numidian Berbers. Worcester Polytechnic Institute


Shooting from the Hip (India: Photo Series) By Melissa Belz Assistant Teaching Professor, Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division

ABOVE: A man walks by with stalks of sugarcane while shoppers line up to purchase posters of the Hindu gods. These are offerings in preparation for the close of Diwali, the “festival of lights�, when candles light the way to welcome certain gods and goddesses to the home. Nawalgarh, Rajasthan, India.


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ndia. It’s “sensory overload.” But, that’s one of the things I love about it. Lavish decoration, a palpable smell of incense, and the call of a chai wallah through the tightly packed pattern of activity. It’s endless. Because India seems so indescribable, I feel determined to capture it through my camera. This is seldom successful. But one day, feeling conspicuous with my camera, I shot from the hip. Reverting to one of my favorite approaches, I didn’t compose the shots. I didn’t even look through the camera. I explored and experienced being there while being less preoccupied with photography. Not only is it fun, but the resulting images can catch some of the true action and the most interesting details stopped in time – details I might never notice while trying to deliberately distill the “sensory overload” into a photograph. Go on, embrace the tilted perspective and see things in a new way.

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Male Lion—King of the Jungle

LEFT: Quickly reaching over my head, I photographed three women leaning into a storefront to examine the vast inventory of bangles. Nawalgarh, Rajasthan, India.


RIGHT: Glowing shoppers gather at a fruit market stall shaded by red fabric. Nawalgarh, Rajasthan, India.


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LEFT: The complete photograph from this issue of Unpacked’s cover. Men work to load oxcarts beside a sunny fruit stand. Delhi, India.


Changa Chet! By Colleen Callahan-Panday Assistant Director, International Students and Scholars, Nepal (2011)

few years ago someone left a copy of The Kite Runner at our house and my husband, Prajjwal, stumbled upon it. He’s not usually “a reader”—I’ve teased him about reading the same roughed up paperback for the past five years—but he quickly fell into this book, putting it down every now and then to reminisce about fighting his own kites with children from the flat rooftops of their Kathmandu neighborhood. Once the book transitioned from the main character living as a boy in Afghanistan and making and flying kites with his friend, to a young man living in America, Prajjwal quickly lost interest and tossed it aside. He never did finish it. I didn’t quite understand his enthusiasm for the beginning of that book. During the many years I had known him, I had never before seen him talk about kites, let alone fly them. That changed in October of 2011 when Prajjwal and I

ABOVE: Prajjwal launches the first kite. 15

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were able to travel back to his family home to celebrate Dashain, his first opportunity in over ten years. The fifteen day festival is the most widely celebrated and popular holiday in Nepal: think ten days of festive preparation and then five days of eating and visiting with extended family members—Thanksgiving-style, with goat curry in place of turkey—while exchanging gifts of money and sweets like Christmas. During the holiday students have off from school, and punctuate their family visits and festival-sanctioned gluttony with informal neighborhood kite flying competitions. During that trip there had been a lot of rain, at least a few showers each day, but one morning from the living room window Prajjwal spotted several colorful kites flying, and with boyish enthusiasm and a twinge of nostalgia, he declared that he wanted to fly kites as well. He dug through the cupboards until he found an old spool of thick sharp string and grinned, “This is very good, from Lucknow, India.” He had earlier explained that the best kite fighting string is coated in a dusting of crushed glass to better cut the strings of other kites, effectively knocking the competition out of the sky, and winning the kite fight. We scrounged up some dusty old tissue-paper kites from the top of a closet, and made some quick repairs with cellophane tape. Prajjwal brought me to the flat cement roof and we found a spot between the lines of drying laundry. He tied the string to the nicest looking

ABOVE: Searching for some competition over the neighborhood rooftops in Kathmandu, Nepal. kite and thrust it up into the air. There was little wind, but Prajjwal started pulling and twisting, sticking out his tongue and biting his lip with concentration. When the kite caught some air and lifted, a smile spread across his entire face, “I’ve still got it.” He pulled the kite fairly high into the sky, and explained that we could fight with others floating above nearby houses. He asked if I would like to try, and I took hold of the spool. I didn’t have it for more than thirty seconds before the kite started dropping and spinning out of control. “What did I do wrong?” I asked, as Prajjwal grabbed the kite back and tried to rescue it from its death spiral, “I tugged and pulled on the string like you did.” “I guess it takes skill and practice,” he answered, a bit of pride shining through his voice.

It took him a few moments to reel in the kite and get it under control, just as fat rain drops began to splatter on the roof. Prajjwal pulled in the kite, and I grabbed the others. We helped to take the laundry off the line before the sky completely gave way to the heavy shower. * The following afternoon the sun was high and warm, with just enough breeze to lift a kite into the air. In preparation Prajjwal and I wound the Lucknow string carefully around his old wide wooden spool used in many childhood competitions and took another kite up to the roof. He quickly launched his kite into the air, and soon it was soaring high above the neighborhood. Half a dozen other kites fluttered against the sky, mostly too far away from us to battle. “When I was a kid there were hundreds.” Prajjwal said, baiting the other kites to try and come after him. He spotted a black kite struggling a few houses away, “Maybe I should go after that one.” Worcester Polytechnic Institute


“What if a little kid is flying that kite?” I

roof a few houses away, “My first win in ten years!” “No mercy.” He said, but steered his kite Prajjwal looked around for another kite to away and over towards a blue-gray kite fight but the others were too far off. “Do you allaunched by a teenager on the far side of the ways have to fight them?” I asked. neighborhood. As the blue-gray kite climbed “That’s the point of flying them.” he anhigher, it made its way closer to Prajjwal’s. The swered. This type of kite flying was quite different kites circled each other several times, like boxers from the few nylon kites I tried to fly as an Ameripreparing to spar against the clouds. can kid on the shores of Lake Ontario, the goal “When you cut the string of another’s kite being to get the decorative kite airborne and you are supposed to yell ‘changa chet!’ which watch it float in the breeze. I don’t remember means ‘kite is cut!’ [in Nepali.]” Prajjwal extechnique or skill involved, like in this South Asian plained. version. He pulled up and tugged hard on the kite A few little kids in the alley below had and his string ran straight into the blue-gray with watched the kite fight and started to chant, a force that visibly shook his opponent’s kite, “Baba Che, dhago chod.” even from such a distance. Prajjwal’s spool “What does that mean?” I asked. started to pull and the string unraveled rapidly. “This kite design is called Baba Che. The “I guess we have to see who wins the fight.” kids are calling out to us, ‘Baba Che, release He pulled and then loosened, pulled and more strings!’ They want us to fight someone so loosened, and then the blue-gray kite started to they can chase the kite that falls and use it weave and sink out of the sky. again in another battle.” “CHHHHHHET!” Prajjwal yelled to the teenWe let it fly for a while more, until a chorus ager holding the limp string on the high cement of “chhhhhet!” rang out again. asked.

BELOW: “The kites circled each other several times, like boxers preparing to spar against the clouds.”


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Aleshia Carlsen-Bryan Assistant Director of Academic Advising and Pre-Professional Programs Grenada, November 2012 took this photo in Grenada in the Caribbean while visiting St. George’s Medical and Veterinary School. I am the Pre-Health advisor which is why I was visiting the medical/veterinary school in Grenada. When I was taking the photo I was shocked that I was actually in front of a wild monkey.

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12 Ways to Swiss Bliss By Thomas Meagher Management Information Systems ‘15, Switzerland

magine the greenest greens and the bluest blues you have ever seen. That is what I saw. Traveling at thirty thousand feet in the air, I saw Switzerland. The Alps framed the rolling green countryside as my flight descended down into the Swiss city. Grazing bovine and petite farmhouses spread peacefully across the hills, inviting visitors to explore their fields and crags. Taking in the snow-capped Alps, these vignettes were soon exchanged for the dark blues of the lake and the metropolitan bustle of Zurich. Hypnotized by what I saw outside, I did not even notice the bing of the fasten seatbelt sign. My senses were focused outside, on the brilliant blue sky I was just in. My eyes were sated, but I had to feel it all. I needed to feel it all, needed to breathe the alpine air and feel the lush grass between my toes. I had to get off the plane. Almost regrettably, I gathered my carry-on baggage and walked off Swiss Air flight 143. Then, I spent the next two hours sitting at Gate A, peering out the window. My final destination of that flight did not include green hills, blue skies, or even 85% dark chocolate from downtown Zurich. I was on my way home. Home to life in suburban Massachusetts. I could not even say I had been to Switzerland because airports do not count – it was just a layover on another European trip. But as I boarded my flight, I absconded one last glimpse outside and I told my mom that I would be back, joking that I would complete one of my WPI projects there. Almost a year later, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the first WPI 19

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Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) team that ventured to Switzerland for seven weeks. While seven weeks seems like a lot of time, it is not, especially while you are working on a project. I will definitely be going back to explore everything I missed my first time. Renowned for its various chocolates and cheeses, Switzerland has much more to offer than most European countries. Its rich cultural heritage allows visitors to experience the neighboring countries, with a Swiss twist of course, without ever departing the borders of the alpine nation. In order to achieve your own

ABOVE: Thomas in Switzerland

Feeling of Swiss bliss there are a few (actually twelve) modest pointers that I have to offer:

plunge into famous Lake Zurich or one of the other ones. When I arrived to my flat, my Swiss buddy told me to put on my bathing suit and 1. Fly Swiss Air! Although the fares may not be we jumped in the four degree Celsius Lake Zuthe cheapest you can find, flying with the Swiss rich. It is a March moment I will never forget. definitely has its rewards. Free in-flight chocolate and first class service. Most of the Swiss fly 8. Get to know Zurich. There are many intereston Swiss Air so you might end up with some lo- ing cities in Switzerland, but Zurich is the one cal contacts! you want to get to know (in my opinion). Its geographical location and culture are very 2. Go outdoors (and bring sunblock no matter unique. Walk the Bahnhofstrasse, for a worldwhat season you go). If you plan on taking ad- renowned shopping experience or sit in a cozy vantage of the many outdoor activities that café and watch the people! Switzerland has to offer (my favorite is skiing in the Alps), make sure you wear UV protection. 9. Stay in Switzerland. Even though Switzerland Especially up in the mountains as you can get a is in a central European location, great for travnice tan or become very, very red. eling to neighboring countries, travel internally. Besides Zurich, visit Lucerne (see the Lion Monu3. Never buy bottled water. All Swiss villages ment) and Bern (the capitol). Northern and have natural flowing fountains which are fine to eastern Switzerland is the Swiss German, or drink from or fill up a water bottle. Water that is Schweizerdeutsch region, southern Switzerland not safe has to be labeled. is the Italian, while the western part is the French. They all have their unique cultures, 4. Get a Swiss Pass. Traveling on trains through- food, and quirks that make them (in my opinout Switzerland is the only way to go as taxis ion) better than the actual countries. and rentals are very expensive. The Swiss Pass pays for itself after a few rides. What’s better 10. Visit CERN. Being an engineer abroad does than relaxing on a train and taking in pasture not mean you have to neglect your geeky side! after pasture? Located in southwest Switzerland, in Geneva, CERN boasts the Large Hadron Collider and 5. Try every single type of cheese. The country was the birthplace of the World Wide Web. has over 450 cheeses and no two taste the 11. Spend a Swiss Sonntag. Sunday or Sonntag same. Visit a cheese factory to see how it is made and spend some quality time with Swiss in Switzerland is truly unique. All the village and cows (the gentlest in the world). city shops are closed and it is a day of family time. If you are traveling with your family or with 6. For dessert (or lunch and breakfast) have friends (or even by yourself) take some time to chocolate. Maybe there are not as many types go for a casual stroll and enjoy each other’s of chocolate as cheese, but it is definitely not company. overhyped! Most Swiss chocolate you purchase in the United States is made with Vermont 12. Make friends with the Swiss. The Swiss, while cow’s milk. Make sure you visit Switzerland to somewhat reserved when compared to your have the real thing; you will be glad you did. average American, are extremely hospitable to strangers. When I was in Zurich, a Swiss couple 7. Jump in Lake Zurich. While Switzerland is land invited us to their home for Raclette, a cheesy locked, the country has its share of seas or delicacy. Nothing beats cheesin’ with the Swiss! lakes. No matter what the season is, take the

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Valley of Fire, Nevada: Photo Series By Philip Clay Dean of Students, Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, Nevada

n hour northeast of Las Vegas, the city of many excesses, lies Valley of Fire State Park, the first National Park in Nevada. The park gets its name from the distinctive red sandstone formations which were created over 150 million years ago from shifting sand dunes. Over time, as the area experienced extensive faulting and erosion, the jagged rock formations of the present day landscape were formed. It is a place of breathtaking beauty and peacefulness, primordial and almost other worldly. I have visited Valley of Fire many times, primarily in the spring when daily temperatures are in the mid-70s, rather than the unbearable desert summer temperatures which can reach 120 degrees. The inhospitable summer temperatures and lack of water make the area unsuitable for habitation for any prolonged length of time, but the area was used by American Indians from approximately 300 B.C. to 1150 A.D. While the exact history of the ancient peoples in the Valley of Fire is unknown, it is believed that they used the area for food gathering and hunting, as well as religious ceremonies. The legacy of their presence is represented by the ancient petroglyphs they created in several areas of the park. Unlike a wall painting which is painted onto the surface of a rock wall, a petroglyph is an ancient image that is carved or incised into the rock surface. The petroglyphs in Valley of 21

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Fire are carved into areas of rock covered with ‘desert varnish.’ Here, the outer rock surface is typically coated with minerals and oxides which create a shiny surface patina. The petroglyphs are created by carving into the ‘desert varnish,’ exposing the sandstone rock surface underneath. While the exact iconography or meaning of the petroglyphs is unknown, it is clear that they had specific meaning for the native people who carved them.

ABOVE: Two hands and a few geometric lines. For me, Valley of Fire State Park is a deeply spiritual place. Each time I visit, I am filled with awe at the raw splendor of the primeval landscape. As the sun sets and I look at the rock formations glowing in a glorious red blaze, I am filled with a sense of inner peace. Perhaps the native people who felt compelled to carve the petroglyphs in Valley of Fire felt the same way.

Dean Clay taking photographs of the petroglyphs in the national park.

A variety of figures including multiple representations of desert big horn sheep, a row of people, and various geometric designs.


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ABOVE: Four figures holding hands, the right two figures appear to be human.

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The Valley of Fire canyon where the petroglyph pictures were taken.



September 11 at the Oasis By Peter H. Hansen Director of International Studies, Associate Professor of Humanities and Arts, Morocco (A ‘10)

idnight at the oasis always sounded to me ochre. After the sun slipped above the horizon, more like an orientalist pop song than a possibility the silence was broken by whooping and hollerfor real life. Yet listening to music and prayers dur- ing as some of us descended the sand with long ing a late-night dinner for WPI students at a Sufi strides and others slid on rugs like toboggans. The community in a Moroccan oasis provided a more ride back in the jeeps was filled with lively chatter powerful lesson in the possibilities of mutual unand talk of memories of a lifetime. derstanding. Yet sunrise was soon overshadowed by Our WPI group traveled to the oasis by our dinner that night at a Sufi zawiya that began crossing the Atlas Mountains from Al Akhawayn after dark. Sufism is a mystical, esoteric order of University in Ifrane to the small market town of Er- Islam and a zawiya is a school or lodge for a foud. Much of the route follows a strip of fertile community of believers. Female students from land watered by a river flowing south from the WPI were told they would be honorary men for mountains that eventually disappears into the the evening, since women were not normally desert. The Tafilalt Oasis along the river is the larg- permitted in the room where we would eat. After est in North Africa after the Nile valley. Several a delicious tagine meal of chicken, couscous, times we left the tourist track to see irrigation and tea, one of the men of the zawiya sang a techniques old and new. Traditional methods still prayer for Christians, which they assumed all of us prove more effective and sus“Early one morning, we rattled were. This prayer song was foltainable than modern engilowed by drumming and ecalong dirt roads in the dark to neering projects cast in constatic invocations that, when the edge of the dunes. The crete. translated by a colleague from headlights of our jeeps illumi- Al Akhawayn University, we Water has sustained life in the oasis for millennia, a span nated a line of kneeling cam- learned recited passages in the els and their blue-robed han- Koran about tolerance and muof time that is difficult to grasp dlers. ” in your mind but easy to hold in tual understanding. the palm of your hand: small Drumming turned to diafossils that are millions of years old as well as Palogue, a discussion of life at the zawiya and in the leolithic hand axes, Mesolithic points, and NeoUnited States. One of the brothers asked what lithic arrowheads collected in the Sahara are for we thought about debates over building an Issale in Erfoud. We also visited the nearby ruins of lamic cultural center in lower Manhattan near a city that numbered 100,000 people a thousand the site of the World Trade Center. The issue had years ago, then among the largest in the world. been widely covered on Arabic language televiThe mud walls bore more recent scars from serv- sion, but the brothers of the zawiya offered no ing as the backdrop for filming Hollywood block- opinion of their own and said it was something for busters such as The Mummy. the United States to solve. Our trip to the oasis Yet for us, as for most visitors, Erfoud was had been timed to coincide with the end of the gateway to the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. Ramadan in 2010. To our astonishment, we realEarly one morning, we rattled along dirt roads in ized that we were sharing our meal on Septemthe dark to the edge of the dunes. The headber 11. The significance of our eating together lights of our jeeps illuminated a line of kneeling that night did not require translation. As we left camels and their blue-robed handlers. After a the zawiya under the light of a small crescent short ride into the sands, the camels halted in a moon, I hoped that the spirit of the evening basin at the bottom of a ridge. We scrambled up would last well beyond midnight and remain with as the dark sky turned gray blue then shades of each of us long into the future. 27

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Photo Series: Namibia By Christopher Sontag Electrical and Computer Engineering ‘14, Namibia (D’13)

amibia, Africa has one of the lowest population densities in the world, and because of this, has some of the most beautiful scenery with varieties of exotic animals. Much of the country is uninhabited and untouched by humans, allowing the nature lover to see tremendous sights. Whether it be the rainforests in the northeast, the deserts in the south/west, or the coastline, Namibia has it all. It is home to some of the most breathtaking sights and night skies that I will ever get to see in my lifetime. These pictures try to capture a little bit of everything I saw in Namibia.

ABOVE: Untouched sand dunes at the Gobabeb Research and Training Centre on the very edge of the Namib Desert and Namib-Naukluft National Park.

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The beautiful red mountains near Sossusvlei shine brightly during the twilight hours.

On a rainy Easter weekend at Etosha National Park in Namibia, a lone Acacia Tree overlooks the Etosha mineral pan.


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African elephants gather at the watering hole to hydrate on a rainy day at the Etosha National Park


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The Bride of Niagara: A Sonnet By Victoria Loehle Biomedical Engineering ‘17, Niagara Falls, Canada

The invitation is written in the brilliant blue sky, With wispy white letters that drift across each azure line, Beckoning us awestruck earthlings to join the groom and bride. First we see a puff of lace billowing toward the heavens. A caravan appears, and we walk beside our brethren. We then cross the footbridge toward the murmur of merriment… There! Above the bobbing boats, amidst a myriad grins, The bride hovers, paused mid-leap, above her groom’s outstretched limbs. As she declares her eternal love, tears breach her eyes’ brims. Her veil flutters above her silky train as it cascades Over the precipice conceived by their parents’ disdain And, through true love’s persistence, eroded miles away. There! Throughout swirling tiers of lace and misty silver plumes, We mortals cheer as the Bride of Niagara joins her groom.

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Collection of Color: Photo Series By Matthew Simmers Graduate Student, MBA ’16, multiple locations

vibrant Display of Color. One or two colors are selected from a high contrast scene to emphasize the significance of the selected colors to the composition of the image. While traveling for work I try to get out for a walking photo session if my schedule allows. I find that cities can seem rather grey and dull at times but the blue of the John A, Roebling suspension bridge can be more greatly appreciated within the muted surroundings. Coasts are always full of color whether it is a beautiful sunset or a flash of orange within the greenery. Around fall in New England there is a bounty of color, including this sunflower whose face had turned to the ground, hiding its color from anyone not looking for it. Each of these image has the subject colors manually isolated while the body of the image is de-saturated to a monochrome. The process can be difficult on the most complex images but it is rewarding when a image comes forth the evokes emotion in the viewer through dramatic color and contrast.

RIGHT: Captured at the start of the rainy season on the northwest coast of Costa Rica.


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Captured at sunset off a rock jetty on the coast of California


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ABOVE: John A Roebling Bridge in CInicinatti, OH, captured through a construction zone in Cincinnati.

LEFT: Captured at Tougas Farm in Central Massachusetts.


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Revisiting Kuwait By Krisha Nazareth Biomedical Engineering ’16, Kuwait 2013

isiting what is considered the wealthiest country in the world would be a daunting experience if I hadn’t already called it “home” at some point in my life. As often as I visit, I’m almost always introduced to some sort of social or cultural aspect of the country that surprises me. Every year I delve into the Middle East with fresh eyes, ready to immerse myself for three weeks. This past summer was no different. At first sight, there isn’t much to do in Kuwait; the famous landmark there is the Kuwait Towers, and aside from that, there are several bigger malls and smaller shopping outlets in and around the city. There is also the ocean front, and going to the beach and sitting under the hot sun easily became my favorite thing to do. My cousin and I would pack copious amounts of water and tread the beaches slowly, enjoying the cool breezes that jumped out at us from the waters of the Persian Gulf. In many ways, Kuwait has interesting aspects to it. It is laid out in such a way that you can find a beach, drive for about five minutes and soon be in the middle of a busy shopping district. These were some of the things I took pleasure in as I tried to escape the harsh realities of temporarily living in a country where not everyone has the same freedoms. I was always aware (albeit, vaguely) of the enormous difference between the social classes in Kuwait. During my short time there this past summer, I was able to catch a glimpse of the lifestyles of the rich and the poor. I met a shaykhah, the wife of a sheikh. She lives a lavish life, along with her husband and four children who, when I met them, had just finished riding their horses. To my surprise, I wasn’t taken aback by her wealth; that is, not until she called her servants to wait on my family and me. Her servants did so patiently, of course, never once forgetting to bow in respect after receiving her orders. I choked on her wonderful hospitality, and I felt my heart sink with every act of service performed for me. Upon leaving, I caught my 41

unpacked * Fall 2013

breath, and vowed never to get so rich as to have another human being be at my service this way. As ridiculous as it may seem, I think about that horrid hour fairly often, and I have yet to change my mind. I was thrown into what seemed like two entirely different worlds, but by the end of my trip, I realized that I had never been more inspired to work hard and appreciate what I have, and contemplate the kind of person I wanted to become. Also during my trip I met someone I like to call a “new, old family friend.” He works hard, not only for his family but for himself. He isn’t rich, but he knows what he wants, and even if it’s out of his reach, he won’t give up waiting for the chance to attain it. He exuded what I find myself lacking on a daily basis: patience. I have lived a fast-paced life, never once slowing down to appreciate the finer things around me. Everyday used to be a constant struggle to greet my friends and exchange information about things that didn’t matter, but now I find myself, more often than not, lost in my own thoughts, thinking about how much I have, and how little I could have. I learned to become a more patient person, to work hard for what I want, and to not give up if I don’t get it right away. These are some of the things I probably would not have learned living in New York City alone. New York City never slows down, not even for a second, and although it can be an unhealthy way to live, I wouldn’t trade growing up there for anything in the world. There are many wonderful aspects of the city that I have come to appreciate as I grow older. For one, it takes pride in the fact that it was built up by immigrants. Most (if not all) of us belong to a family of immigrants, and although immigration is often a topic of debate in this country, we have taken great measures to honor our past when it comes to the birth of this nation (Ellis Island, for example). However, during this trip to Kuwait, I came to see a dark truth behind the wealth in the

country. The abuse of immigrant workers is so strongly prevalent, that I was somewhat ashamed for not seeing it earlier. I could see all of the wonderful, breathtaking architectural feats in the city as nothing but the poorly paid labor of workers trying to make a better life for thieir family. This social injustice opened my eyes to the sufferings of those less fortunate than I. My trip to Kuwait served as one of the

most striking learning experiences I’ve ever had. I met wonderful new people, spent time with my family, and learned about the cultural and social norms associated with a place that I once called “home.� I am grateful for the chance to go there, and look forward to visiting again next summer. Despite the social inequalities of Kuwait, I wouldn't trade that opportunity for anything in the world.

BELOW: The Kuwait City skyline.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute


Morocco and China: Photo Series By Tahar El-Korchi Department Head and Professor of Civil Engineering, Morocco (A’13) and China (E’13)

ABOVE: Chandlor Lyles is a student completing her HU&A project in Morocco. She is pouring the traditional Moroccan Mint Tea at the Elkorchi house in the Rabat Medina (or old city), while the following look on: Helei (David) Duan, Mikhail Morozov, Matthew Noyes, Prof. Rob Krueger, Melissa Landi, and Tony Stolo.


unpacked * Fall 2013

ABOVE: The entire group of students and faculty completing their IQP and HU&A project at the Morocco project center during A term 2013. This photo is taken in Rabat on Avenue Mohamed V near the train station. The students and faculty are (not listed in order): James Hitchen, Melissa Landi, Mikhail Morozov, Matthew Noyes, Kevin Reed, Kirsten Reed, Shane Stenson, Anthony Stolo, Tamene Tedla, Samantha Ervin, Chandlor Lyles, Thomas Nuthmann, Emily Perry, Professor Tahar El-Korchi, Rob Krueger, Jennifer deWinter, and Fatiha Occhialini.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute


BELOW: This is a picture of the WPI led solar house project that was entered in the Solar Decathlon China 2013 competition ( The house placed eighth overall out of 19 houses, but placed 1st in the hot water contest and energy balance and 4th in the communications criteria.


unpacked * Fall 2013

ABOVE: Pictured is the international team of faculty and students that worked on the solar house posing inside their creation. The team consisted of students from Ghent University, New York Polytechnic and WPI. From left to right: Thomas Tassignon (Ghent Univesity), David Cyganski (WPI), Taoning Wang (WPI), Courtnae-Symone Currie (WPI), Tahar El-korchi (WPI), Jingyi Tang (NYU Poly), and Steven Van Dessel (WPI).

Worcester Polytechnic Institute


Photo Series: Namibia By Marissa Goerke Mechanical Engineering ’14, Namibia

ABOVE: Kelly Ames enjoys an African tea time at the Gobabeb Desert Research Station in the Namib desert. RIGHT: Brendan Henrich helping Topnaar child take a picture. Marissa’s final photo is featured on the back cover.


unpacked * Fall 2013

This issue of unpacked includes authors, stories,

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February 9, 2014 @ midnight

Sand dunes near Gobabeb Desert Research Station, one of WPI’s IQP project site sponsors, in the Namib desert. (Marisa Goerke, Namibia).

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