A Reflection and Thanks

So my circumnavigation has come to an end. I am now back in Evanston, moving back into my house, seeing my friends and preparing for the start of my Senior year. I can’t believe how fast this summer has past and how much of the world I have had the opportunity to explore. No longer does sustainable develop (SD) seem like an abstract idea in my mind, having seen hundreds of individuals doing all kinds of projects to spread a healthy, more environmentally conscious form of living. I myself have seen so many ways I could improve my own quality of life while living more sustainably. When my thesis is finished, I hope to be able to share with all those willing to read it a view of the diverse range of SD projects being carried out throughout the world as well as how SD organizations can better engage a community and instill behavioral changes that will ultimately lessen our impact on the earth.

I will also be working on a short video compilation of some of my interviews. During every interview, I asked what that person’s definition of sustainable development was and during the forty some interviews did not receive a single repetitive answer. We all understand we need to change our lifestyles but how we see that change taking place is through different lenses and impacted by different factors. With the help of the Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern, I was able to record my interviews and share the faces of the movement with you. Look forward to that in the near future.

A special thanks to The Circumnavigators Foundation, especially Mrs Carol Narup for all her support and guidance with me, for this once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the world, and to know more about people, the world and myself.

To all the new friends and colleagues I have made- from researchers, to nonprofit workers, to university professors and government officials, to communities, taxi drivers, bus drivers, new friends from Couch Surfing… this list could go on.

To all my friends around the world, who so graciously opened their families and homes – Sonia and her family in Ecuador, Akhilesh and Wendi in Singapore, Anthony and Jeff in Malaysia, Doug in the UAE, everyone at PPPF Food Hub in Ghana, Bridgette in Denmark, the whole Arvidsson family in Sweden and my good friends Tom, Rory and Benjy in London. Thank you all for the support and for making an individual’s journey around the world feel more like a bus trip filled with friends!

To YOU, thank you for reading all my stories and experiences on this long journey. Thank you for your emails, phone calls, gchats, facebook messages, comments.. and however else the internet allowed us to contact each other. It has meant the world. This trip could not have been possible without you.

Finally, I want to thank my family for being so supportive during this experience. When you call your parents up and say “so I am going to be traveling around the world this summer by myself and with just a backpack,” there are usually a few parental concerns, but my parents were both supportive and loving throughout this entire process. I can’t thank them enough for the help they gave me in planning this trip, supporting my interests and dealing with what I am sure would have been a stressful summer for any parent.

In my last site visit in the UK, I heard a lot about how if everyone lived like someone from the UK, we would need three planets to sustain us. Similarily, if everyone lived like someone from the US, we would need six planets to do the same. Six planets! Just think about how much of an impact we are having in our daily lives and the damage that will do in the long run. We can change this path however, and with this research I hope to help. In the coming days, I will be working on a new site that will continue to give updates on my research, as well as post information about sustainable development works and links of those who have already done so much. Look for that in the coming days as I get back in the swing of things here in Evanston.

Once again, thank you everyone, as I could not have done this without you,

Ben