Travel log 6: “The Mindful Traveler” by Kirsten Fraser. Byron Bay, Australia

Through out the month I’ve lived in Australia, I have noticed a common saying when interacting with the wildlife around us. Whether it is kayaking in the ocean or snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, the instructors have always stressed that we must leave the region we are exploring as we had found it. This notion can be found in Slimbach’s writing as he discourages his readers to cruise through the study abroad experience on ‘autopilot’ but to consider the consequences of our actions. He states, “To be a “mindful traveler” is to approach our field settings with a level of sensitivity and curiosity that’s raises our conscious awareness of how we affect the social and natural environment we enter and act upon. This intentional awareness finds its ground and inspiration in a “story” that clarifies our motivations and allows higher purposes to guide our attempt to grow in wordily wisdom while enriching the lives of others. Ultimately this is what distinguishes the mindful traveler from the carefree drifter or mass tourist”. (2010, pg. 74) I agree with such notions because I too have caught myself cruising through my study abroad experience not taking into account the consequences my actions may have. For example, when at Quinnipiac I often walk to class listening to music, oblivious to my surroundings. I found myself continuing this routine as I took the bus to and from class each day. However, I found with headphones in one is much less approachable than someone who is simply sitting watching the scenery go by. On the days where I forgot my headphones, I had found that I struck conversations with those sitting near me on the bus, whether it be another study abroad student or a local going to the same destination. Enjoying these conversations, I decided to make a new habit of keeping my headphones in my room. Instead of continuing my tradition, I paid mind to the social effect my practice had and changed my actions in order to gain worldly insight through these conversations.

I believe ‘mindful traveling’ to be an essential trait of those participating in the global community. Therefore, I plan to do this by leaving the Earth how I had found it. I will use the reusable bags instead of the plastic bags at the grocery store, as the plastic bags are often detrimental to wildlife. I will attempt to reduce my carbon footprint as “Airplanes travel in the sensitive upper troposphere and lower stratosphere, where they release a cocktail of greenhouses-gas emissions that currently accounts for about 13 percent of total transportation-sector emissions of carbon dioxide”. (2010, pg. 90) I will do this by walking rather than taking the bus whenever possible, turning off the lights or TV when they are not being used, using reusable water bottles, and recycling.

These terms relate to the working definition of global community, which is all people around the world living by and fighting for similar social values and basic rights. To be a ‘mindful traveler’ is to be an active member of the global community, while being a carefree drifter is being a passive member of the global community. Both are members of this community as they have an impact on the world around them. However, the ‘mindful traveler’ is aware of the impact they have and seeks to limit it, as with the example of reducing my carbon footprint. Every student who traveled to Australia from the states dumped a large amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. However, a ‘mindful traveler’ would work to reduce this impact by attempting to limit their CO2 emissions while, as a carefree drifter would not pay mind to this fact. I think our definition of global community encompasses the qualities of a ‘mindful traveler’ and does not need any adjusting. However, there are also challenges to mindful traveling. Many are accustomed to operating on autopilot and it can be difficult to change one’s ways. Mindful traveling requires an active attention to the task.

I choose the picture below as it shows the beautiful scenery that encompasses Australia. I would hate for the effect of humans to ruin this beautiful place. Maybe to further reduce my carbon footprint, I will never fly home!

img_5034

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.

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