Swiss bubble

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Even on the third day in Riva, the jet lag looms on. But that didn’t stop this group, that’s for sure. Finally in the swing of things, we trucked through the morning studying environmental incentive and policy. It almost provides culture shock when examining the incredible incentives and innovative programs that European Countries have in place and are currently working on. Sustainability still feels so new in America; like a movement that is making its way toward being part of society. In these European countries however, it is merely a lifestyle. It is not optional and is instead almost second nature to conserve and cultivate responsibly.

It brings to question the concepts and freedoms our country was founded upon. Like Tyler asked today in class, is it really infringing on our human rights to have a much lower tax on more efficient light bulbs? Is being taxed for living a lifestyle reckless with resources truly stripping the country of the liberties that America stands for? It seems to be the consensus amongst the Riva group that those notions are irresponsible and outdated. Just as Obama said just a few days ago, it is time to get our heads out of the sand. If we were a progressive group, these taxes wouldn’t need to be mandated. Are we not a country capable of making the correct choice for the environment and the economy on our own? I suppose that’s why we are here today in our beautiful villa, so that we may be the progressive Americans with hope for our population to be a leader in the environmental movement, and even greater hope for the state of the planet to overcome our eminent predicament.

The lifestyle in Riva is so different. Would these people moan and groan at the concept of paying a few extra cents for a light bulb that would cost less in energy in the long run as well as conserve many other environmental negative effects? We outsiders don’t think so. The open-mindedness seems to be part of life and the character of the town and its inhabitants.

On a lighter note, our spark for sustainability leads us to continue to seek out this hope in a few other ways. This week we have spent our afternoons exploring Riva and its people. We took walks in and out of the alleyways that the natives call streets. We have discovered churches that embody the history and culture of the country. And we have relaxed by Lake Lugano, enjoying the natural beauty of the area.

Tonight we traveled to Lugano, some of us for the first time. Its little alleyways weave in and out of the hillsides and overlook the lake so beautifully. We found shops on the lakeside and a square with a surprisingly wonderful free concert. Colin played fútbol with some children in the square while George stayed glued to the Italy v. Spain game on television at a nearby café and soon it seemed like we were living in a movie and the square was our own picturesque stage.

With a vow to return, shopping in mind for the girls and more fútbol in mind for the boys, we headed toward the train early so as to not miss it. There, we waited for over forty-five minutes for a train that just never seemed to come. After boarding and traveling back to our special home of Riva, we realized just how long that fifteen-minute walk to the train station is going to seem for the rest of the trip. But it seems that time is precious to recap and laugh and celebrate our successes and failures as very clearly American students living in a Swiss bubble.

Guest contributor:  Kayleigh Roy

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