University Sustainability

Defining Sustainability since 1899

Green Spotlight Blogs

The Green Spotlight blogs allow students, faculty, staff, and friends of Appalachian a chance to express, in their own words, their personal connection to sustainability.

Rob C. - Personal Connection to Sustainability: What Traveling Can Do

My first real opportunity to travel was in 2014, me my dad, and a group of soccer buddies went to Brazil for the World Cup. Once in a lifetime opportunity to go see the world cup played in the place where futbol is much more than a game. During our time in Brazil we stayed in a little town covering a peninsula called ‘Buzios’. It was about a 2.5 hour drive away from Rio de Janeiro, and was filled with futsal courts, amazing Acai, clear water, and an ecstatic community. Most of our time was spent here, snorkeling, cliff jumping, playing pickup soccer against locals (which was not fair), and walking around the beautiful landscape of Buzios. I don't know what specifically happened, but something there struck a chord in me, something that I will never forget. I developed a desire to live how I was living in Brazil, in connection with the land and with the people. A true high on life moment. I remember coming home about to start my senior year, and applying to colleges, with a new thought in mind, I wanted to be outside and live to the fullest as much as I possibly could. Appalachian State somehow popped in my mind and I ran with it. I applied to there and Chapel Hill with the sole intent of going to App State. Kind of funny because I pictured myself at a big SEC football school, fratting it up, probably majoring in Business or Marketing, with no thought of the outdoors. So yea I got accepted and was excited to go, but kind of realized that I did not want to go to school 3 months after a long 12 year spree of education. Through the last couple of months of my senior year I decided to defer enrollment for a year, and sign up for a gap semester program. 1 semester of traveling and 1 semester of seeing how life is without any school involved. I was psyched. I signed up for a trip to New Zealand and Australia through the gap semester program, Pacific Discovery. It was a 2 month trip, focused around conservation and sustainability. So excited. I was going to rock climb, canoe, backpack, abseil, snorkel, swim, adventure, learn how to do flying trapeze, and stay on permaculture farms, and national parks to learn about conservation efforts down under. So blessed that my parents helped me out with this trip. Was so excited and on October 5th, I departed to Sydney, Australia ready to start a long adventure. The trip was awesome, and also difficult being somewhat independent, halfway across the world. We composted all our food throughout the trip, donating our food to local farms and restaurants whenever we came buy them. We learned how to grocery shop with sustainability in mind as well. The 3rd week we stayed on a permaculture farm in Australia, and it was one of the coolest experiences i have had. Working all day with a lunch break and swim in the mid afternoon in the middle of nowhere, Australia. It was so cool how the farm was set up. water came directly from the rain that fell, being stored in big containers throughout the property. The water for showers, and all the electricity came from solar panels, which are very efficient Down Under doing this time of year because the faulty ozone layer breaks up and falls over australia. The house was set up to use as little electricity as possible. On a hill so the winter winds would not touch it, so less energy going to heat, and open in the front so summer winds would cool off the home, offering little A/C usage. Most of the light in the home was provided by sunlight, with most of the walls being windows. We stayed in donated train cars, which was so cool. The place is called The Crossing in New South Wales if you want to look it up. Awesome educational place where many school children go. All our bodily waste was used for compost, and most of the food we ate was from the farm. I could go on and on about what this place was like, but that would take a while. Very cool experience, and put it into perspective that this can be easily done everywhere, and using science, and common knowledge I can live in a very energy efficient home. It was so cool seeing all these concepts I had heard about being put into practice and has stuck with me since. We continued traveling, learning more and more, and at the end of the trip, I realized that this was what i wanted to pursue in life, and what a perfect school to go to like App State. I had no idea the opportunities there were here until I arrived, and I am proud to call this place my home.

Everyone here really cares about these issues and wants to make a difference which is awesome being with a community of like minded people. Being an eco rep has been awesome so far, and I am excited to see what these next 3.5 years have in store!

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