“If the sun is up, you’re up” were the dreaded words to hear from my bedroom doorway at 6:00am, as the sun began to creep over the dunes in Provincetown, Massachusetts. My grandfather’s motto was if the fish and clams were awake, we were awake and there was no time to lose. As a teenager, those wakeup calls were painful, but without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today. As I got older, I grew to love the early mornings on the beach. In fact, that was the time I spent exploring the ocean world with my grandfather, Puppy, which spurred my love for marine fisheries and sent me on my way to UConn to study just that. Looking back at my time here at UConn, I have faced down every obstacle or challenge that has come my way with something I learned from my grandfather on the water.
Curiosity. As we walked across the sandbars at low tide, we weren’t just walking through a murky tidal pool; whole new worlds opened up in each little splash of water. When I asked about a strange looking critter, even the man who seemed to know everything would say, “Beats me, but we can find out.” Never stop exploring and asking questions. The second you do, life gets pretty boring. Join clubs, take some random classes, try something completely new; as my grandfather said, Continue reading →
At the beginning of the summer I sat with my family at our favorite restaurant in Boston, at the same table we sat at as little kids. We may be 21 and 16 years old now, but my brother and I played tic-tac-toe and hangman on the paper napkins for old time sake, just as we did years ago waiting for our meals. At the table to our right, two little boys were engaged in iPad gaming wars. The table to our left a little girl sat with her princess dress on, with the addition of a pink pair of headphones as she zoned out to the latest Tinkerbell cartoon on mom’s iPhone. I was troubled to see that with the new rise of technology kids seem to be losing their creativity and sense of curiosity. As I started my adventures for the summer, I was curious to see if the pattern held true with kids across the country, and across the continent.
In May I took off for an environmental volunteer trip to the indigenous village of Piriati Embera, Panama, with UConn Global Brigades. For a week we had the incredible opportunity to learn from community members about their methods of sustainable agriculture, and help plant hundreds of seedlings that will hopefully provide the community with a source of income for future generations. We also helped to maintain greenhouses and irrigation trenches, and held workshops teaching the dangers of acid rain and improper waste disposal. The amazing thing about this trip was not just the experience of working in Panama; it was working side by side WITH the community members. We got to hear stories of their families and traditions, and their hopes for their children and grandchildren. Throughout the week the kids who lived in the area would run by the greenhouses as we worked, making silly faces or showing off their tree climbing skills. They made toys out of sticks and pieces of trash along the street. They leapt into the river trying to show off backflips when they thought we weren’t looking. They raced down the road on bikes and on foot. They giggled and teased and chased and smiled, and they did it without mom’s iPhone or iPad gaming wars. They came to ask questions and tell us about what they wanted to do when they grew up. Some wanted to be doctors, some fashion designers, some singers, some professional futbol players. Every kid we talked to was so excited and curious. After an incredible week of laughing and working with the families of Piriati Embera, Panama, it was time to head back home Continue reading →