‘Sustainability is built into context’

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‘Sustainability is built into context’

Saritha Ramakrishna

Saritha, a junior in the School of Sustainability also studying economics and English Literature, visited Spain and Morocco last summer through the Global Sustainability Studies Program. Ramakrishna was most interested in exploring the interactions between the two regions, especially when it comes to sustainability policy and practice. Here, she shares her observations from her travels.

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Spain/Morocco: Experience and Comparison of Healthcare Abroad

Spain/Morocco: Experience and Comparison of Healthcare Abroad

By Jacqueline Wengerd

Having lived outside of the US for the past two years, and having traveled a fair amount throughout the world, food-caused illness was my last concern when embarking upon a study abroad trip. I, however, was the ‘lucky’ student who became violently ill in a country where i had never been before. Outside of being ill, panic intensifies what the body is experiencing. It is my hope that the documentation of my experience will provide comfort to any other student who may find themselves in the same situation I was in.

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Spain: The Alhambra

Spain: The Alhambra

By Saritha Ramakrishna

The first thing you notice when you visit Granada is that it’s a very old city, like a lot of the places we had visited. You can see it in the cobblestone streets which my sandals were much too thin for and so many other aspects of the city. Visiting the Alhambra will probably be the most distinct memory I have of Granada and not just for the historical/cultural significance we were supposed to take in. It was a long walk uphill, stairs I wasn’t used to climbing and a lot of (hopefully) lighthearted complaining along the way. When we arrived, as expected the place was laughably touristy. Most people around us spoke English and we were all recovering from our walk,  reluctantly buying overpriced water. When we finally entered and heard our guide explain the particulars of each area, I wondered how much of this all of us were really taking in, how a tourist fits into not only a foreign modern landscape but also an ancient one. We might hear a thousand anecdotal points from our guide but how strong would the impression be, 3 hours later when we were all dying for food and the hotel? The casual nature of tourism imposed on a landscape that used to be anything but casual evoked my usual cynical lines of thinking at first, which gave way to a sense of fascination at this irony, this dissonance.

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Spain: So much to see, so little time

Spain: So much to see, so little time

By Jaclyn Smith

We’ve made it to Spain, and yes, it is as gorgeous as everyone makes it out to be. Today is a special day for me because I’ve found free time. During our first tour in Madrid, we walked by a park called Buen Retiro. Every inch  was covered in green, there were so many family and way too many tourists. But I instantly thought to myself, “I’m coming back here tomorrow.” and that I did. Currently I’m laying down on the beautiful grass reflecting on this amazing study abroad trip. I have to take it slow and ask myself questions like, “did I really ride a camel through the Sahara Desert and spend the night in a tent?” or “did I really swim in the Mediterranean sea?” or of course, “am I really in Spain right now?” and my answer is hell yah to all of those questions.

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Spain/Morocco: The Sahara

Spain/Morocco: The Sahara

By Saritha Ramakrishna

The Sahara at night is probably the strangest place I’ve ever been. It’s a space that you might even describe as purgatorial. We’re used to landscapes with definite beginnings and endings, demarcations that make the land something we can process. We’re used to precision, representations of place that are recognizable. The sands not only continue endlessly, but they’re in constant flux, subject to the wind and other disturbances, our own footprints included. A group of us decided to go exploring once the sun had set, burying our feet in the sands, half falling down steep dunes. Of course, we really had no means of navigation, besides the noise of the faint drumming from the camp we could hear in the distance. We were all waiting for our eyes to adjust to the darkness, but they never quite made the transition. Honestly, we weren’t must better than lost children, staring up at stars we weren’t accustomed to seeing, slipping up and down the fluid inclines.

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Spain/Morocco: Blue, Green, Purple, Pink.

Spain/Morocco: Blue, Green, Purple, Pink.

By Alex Vietti

Blue, green, purple, pink.

These are the colors that flash by me every five seconds outside the bus window. I usually cannot sleep on the bus rides; too many brand new visuals to absorb and keep forever. Morocco is indeed foreign, but recently released Daft Punk on the radio makes the whole experience feel less alien, as do these four hues.

Blue, green, purple, pink.

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Spain/Morocco: A Night in the Sahara

Spain/Morocco: A Night in the Sahara

By Carl Combs

I am someone who enjoys to stargaze, and living in brightly lit Phoenix makes this somewhat problematic. I have seen some beautiful starry nights in my lifetime, from the Sacred Valley in Peru to the smallest Hawaiian island of Lanai. These remote locations provide a view of the universe which is not obstructed by the light pollution of cities and neighborhoods. One of the events of the study abroad trip that I was most looking forward to was our night in the Sahara desert outside of Merzouga. I knew that the stargazing would be beautiful, but my expectations were surpassed and then some. It was the most beautiful starscape I have ever seen.

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Spain/Morocco: Modern Morocco

Spain/Morocco: Modern Morocco

By Saritha Ramakrishna

I heard that Morocco has embedded within it a series of contradictions. After visiting Rabat and Marrakech, it seems as if Morocco exists in a kind of gray space, between the expectations of the modern present and its past foundations. Though I’ve heard this said about many different countries, experiencing it firsthand allowed me to understand what this really means.  The landscapes of many developing countries, at least in my experience, have been so characterized. I think Westerners find it strange to see computer parts being sold on the floor of a marketplace, or to find familiar cartoon characters printed on t shirts sold in the next shop. It’s kind of like an incomplete collage, part of the organized chaos of modern Morocco.

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Spain/Morocco: Some Musings…

Spain/Morocco: Some Musings…

By Mady Tyson

It is so hard to set a goal. I’ve thought about this many times, especially when struggling to reach one, but the hardest part is in defining what exactly the goal is.  I thought about this as I see the girls high school we visited today. These girls travel between 10-300km to go to a boarding school because there isn’t one in their village. They want to do well in school, they want to enjoy their friendships, they want to make their families happy. A colleague said she talked to the girls about what they can do with their life, and told them how if they did very well they can go to university. To the right person this can be a very powerful message, but it also needs support. It’s hard enough for me to set goals and I don’t live in a desert with a minimum of supplies, and I’ve been taught about the importance of setting goals. It gives me a lot of awe to realize how many people have taught themselves these behaviors.

Morocco: Learning and Exploring

Morocco: Learning and Exploring

By Frank Trombino

Morocco is undoubtedly different from anywhere else in the world that I’ve ever been. There is something mystical about this place that cannot be captured in words, but rather necessitates a first person experience. Our arrival in Rabat was my first introduction to this mystique, and the day spent after our meeting with the British Council and Young Arabian Policy Analysts certainly assisted in my comprehension of this strange place. At the meeting our discussions divulged information about policy making in Morocco and helped frame the notion of sustainability from outside a western lens. This meeting also granted students the opportunity to discuss and inform Moroccans a glimpse of sustainability through the framing learned at ASU.

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