From May 12–June 14, 25 students traveled to New Zealand and the Cook Islands studying Biodiversity and Environmental Politics, led by biology professor and native New Zealander Brian Corner and political science professor Joe Underhill.
Donnarose Storer-Markoe, a senior majoring in political science with a pre-law emphasis and a minor in international relations, has shared excerpts from her journal.
May 14—Wellington, New Zealand
At the beginning of this year, I told myself I was going to make it a goal to travel as much as I can. Here I sit in Wellington, New Zealand, with ample opportunity to do some traveling. I’m very thankful for the opportunity and I’m excited to see what’s in store.
May 15—Department of Conservation
After hearing about the purposes, goals, and different conservation projects, we were given a tour of the DOC’s new building. … I was really impressed with the way the lights could remember where certain people go to their office and only turn on every third light in the building.
I was amazed at all of the different sustainable practices that were implemented. I couldn’t stop thinking about how someone could incorporate all of these, and, more importantly, think of all of these practices. If more people were thinking the way these designers were and trying to implement these things I think we would be on our way to a more sustainable world.
May 27—Visit to a Maori community
While visiting a local marae (whanau) we were given the opportunity to learn about the culture of the Maori people. … As part of this experience we listened to a presentation by Waereti Tait and Tess Kora (both members of this marae) on issues of sustainability within their culture. …
Their general goal is to “generate sustainable relationships through the establishment of whanau eco-villages and learning centers.” … To accomplish this, the idea is to build simple, nonpolluting homes where people can grow their own food. …
I learned a lot about the importance of being able to portray yourself and deal with issues that are affecting your community. It is difficult and seems illogical to try and address issues from an outsider’s point of view. How can we ever appreciate or fully understand issues of another culture if we are not a part of it? It gives me new appreciation for learning about cultures from someone who belongs to the culture.
June 13—final reflections
I’m trying to process these last few weeks of the trip and I can’t even begin to sort my thoughts or make sense of all of them. I know I’ve learned a lot, and my mind is on overload. … As for now, I’m glad this was possible, and I look forward to more experiences like this one.