I’m a thrill seeker, travelholic, and business woman. But I’m also a futurist, a flower child, and sustainable. If you’re like me, you know the life and experience of your dreams, but you also know the negative impact that tags along. This is problematic – a contradiction of values, yes, but not an impossible engagement.
When I was 20 years young, my entire conception of travel changed. I spent a summer in New Zealand with an organization called International Student Volunteers (ISV). Over the course of a month, I completed two weeks of volunteer work that mainly included environmental restoration. With help from the Department of Conservation, we planted native trees, cut down invasive plants, improved national forests and worked alongside the Māori people.
Early into the trip I thought to myself, “Every tourist needs to have an experience like this!” I learned about the history, culture, religion, and lifestyle of native Māori people, and made deep connections with the residents. The trip wasn’t just about adventure. It was about the small communities that make up the destination.
The weeks following the trip turned into a reality check. I observed how my home culture perceived travel, and I didn’t appreciate my conclusion. We often visit a destination, stay in a hotel owned by a corporate company, complete typical tourist attractions, and disappear. We use their resources, take up space, and pollute. Where’s the rich drive into culture? A notion to thank or honor the host?
I am a student at the University of New Mexico studying sustainability among many other concentrations. My next semester will consist of journeys around Europe before ending in Colchester, England to study at the University of Essex.
My final sustainability project is to take on the issue of inattentive travel and challenge the norm, but I will attempt to attack at a unique angle. I believe in leading by example because behavior is what earns respect, and respect is what motivates constituents. My blog posts will serve as a timeline of my experiences, a diary of failure and success, lessons of experience, and an outlet for inquiries.
For more information and to follow my odyssey, visit leadingecotravel.wordpress.com