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Navigating Nature

A globe-trotting activist communicates science and the environment

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culture

What Halloween Looks Like in Barcelona

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Last weekend, I went to Barcelona with my group from Stanford. We were only there for three days, but we did so much and I learned so much about the history, culture, and present of Cataluña. I also discovered my new favorite architect and visited some of the most famous and important sites of the city. Instead of listing all the things that I did, I’m going to talk about my trip in the context of four themes: Cataluña, the development of the city, the architecture, and the holiday of Halloween, because we were in Barcelona on October 31st. Continue reading “What Halloween Looks Like in Barcelona”

That One Time I Met the King of Spain (And Other Adventures)

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I started my weekend with a visit to the Palacio Real – I had seen the palace before from the outside, but I had not entered the palace. In a lot of ways, it’s very similar to other European palaces – lots of gold, lots of rooms, lots of wealth and colors – and I’ve also visited similar palaces in Italy and Portugal. But the significance of visiting this palace in this moment was very unique, in the context of Spain’s history and also my own life. Continue reading “That One Time I Met the King of Spain (And Other Adventures)”

The Weekend That Totally Messed With My Spanish (a.k.a. Portugal)

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Last weekend, I went to Lisbon, Portugal with four friends. It was my first visit to Portugal, but not to a country in which people speak Portuguese. I lived in Brazil when I was a child (4-6 years old), and even though I was very young, I still remember a little Portuguese. I was in Portugal to reconnect with this part of my identity and to see a new country. Lisbon provided me with the opportunity to do both. Continue reading “The Weekend That Totally Messed With My Spanish (a.k.a. Portugal)”

Fútbol, Castillos, y Aventuras del Metro (Soccer, Castles, and Adventures on the Metro)

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I have been here in Madrid for two weeks, and I have taken classes for one week. I’m taking one class about the Spanish economy, one about cultural change in Spain, one about earth and water sustainability, and one about sustainable architecture. I am also taking a flamenco class and enjoying it a lot. Now classes have started, so I’m learning how to balance my experiences as a traveler and as a student. Continue reading “Fútbol, Castillos, y Aventuras del Metro (Soccer, Castles, and Adventures on the Metro)”

Palau Part III: The Traveler’s Dilemma

My Palau adventure has sadly come to an end, but I had an amazing last week in this beautiful place. I was in Palau for a 3-week research seminar on coral reefs, and if you missed my first two posts about this trip you can read them here and here. We were hosted at the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC), Palau’s top research institution, which also runs the Palau Aquarium. It was great to meet PICRC’s CEO Yimnang Golbuu and interact with many of the researchers there. The seminar was taught by two Stanford faculty members, Rob Dunbar and Stephen Monismith, and a faculty member at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Bob Richmond. Continue reading “Palau Part III: The Traveler’s Dilemma”

Palau Part II: Quadrats, Taro, and Monoliths

It’s been a busy week here in Palau, and we’ve been doing a lot of science and cultural immersion over these last few days. I’m in Palau as part of a 3-week research seminar on coral reefs, and you can see my first post about it here if you missed it. My research project is about tourism pressure on coral reefs, mainly in the form of physical damage to the reefs caused by snorkelers. My group has been hard at work this week visiting popular snorkel sites and sampling for evidence of physical damage to corals. Continue reading “Palau Part II: Quadrats, Taro, and Monoliths”

Plunging Into a Palauan Paradise

Greetings from Palau! After Stanford at Sea, I spent one week in Kauai with my family, and now I am onto my next adventure: a 3-week field seminar in the beautiful island nation of Palau. Palau is located at 7˚ N, to the east of the Philippines and Indonesia:

Palau_and_oceania
Map of Palau in relation to Oceania http://www.howitworksdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Palau_and_oceania.jpg

Palau is the definition of a tropical paradise: hundreds of gumdrop-shaped islands completely covered with lush green jungle, clear warm water that looks to be a million different colors at once, and intricately mesmerizing coral reef communities. One of the really special things about Palau is that it contains a huge variety of different ecosystems. In one country, there are volcanic islands, limestone islands, and coral atolls, as well as four different kinds of reefs. Continue reading “Plunging Into a Palauan Paradise”

When Culture Clashes With Conservation: Managing the World’s Oceans

What do shark fin soup, whaling, and the Cape Wind project have in common (besides just being related to the ocean)? These are all examples of cultural “barriers” to marine conservation, or instances in which a human cultural value has been viewed as unsustainable when it comes to managing the world’s oceans. In fact, global carbon pollution can also be regarded as a cultural barrier to marine conservation as well, since climate change is having a devastating effect on life in the oceans (to learn more about this, see a past blog post here). Each human culture has a slightly different relationship to the ocean, and since I am interested in culture and society as well as environmental sustainability, I’d like to explore this relationship, some common misconceptions, when problems do arise, and how we might approach this issue going forward. Continue reading “When Culture Clashes With Conservation: Managing the World’s Oceans”

The Tanzanian Balancing Act (or, How Two Weeks In East Africa Made Me Question Everything I Thought I Knew About Conservation)

I’ve been visiting national parks like Crater Lake and Yellowstone since I was a toddler. Something about setting aside a specific area of land for the pure purpose of preserving its wildlife, ecology, landscapes, and beauty for future generations seemed so right to me. Like we had already found the solution to our rampant environmental degradation when Ulysses S. Grant signed Yellowstone National Park into existence in 1872. Continue reading “The Tanzanian Balancing Act (or, How Two Weeks In East Africa Made Me Question Everything I Thought I Knew About Conservation)”

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