Arrived in Brussels on Sunday and was able to acclimate myself to the area, find the best public transportation route to my office. I found out that Brussels is not warm, and in fact is not even cool, but is just plain cold (Floridian). My one checked luggage and one carryon of spring clothing will not be sufficient, but gives me an excuse to get familiar with the shopping areas!
Brussels’ old architecture, to an American, is impressive. A walk in any direction for any short amount of time will turn up a surprisingly interesting sight of an old church, building, museum or just unique facades on residential or commercial edifices.
There are loads of hidden gems such as statues, small parks, fountains and unique pieces of art scattered around the city. My apartment is a block away from a 10,000 acre forest, but not far from the city center. It’s a lovely spot, with convenient transportation and easy access to nature. (Picture right: The Atomium- a well known site in Brussels)
I also am enjoying a three day weekend, so I spent Saturday on a tour from Ghent to Bruges- also old, beautiful towns that I am happy to have seen within the first week of my experience abroad.
(Bruges: The Belfort Clock Tower and a horse drawn carriage on the cobblestone streets)
My internship host organization, Jlag Europe, is also located between two large parks. Brussels is one of the greenest cities in Europe because of its scattered natural areas. It’s quite beautiful. It’s nice because most of the buildings have massive windows and use natural daylighting. They claim it is because they have such an appreciation for the rare sunshine, and don’t want to miss it when it appears. So, I am lucky to have my desk set up near a large window, despite the proclivity for heavy honking it appears Belgians have.
Anyway, the first few days of the internship have been extremely productive, as the outline for the research is taking shape, I have further defined capacity building for the purposes of this study, and some specific capacity building techniques within PM4SD have been identified. I have developed a preliminary survey that will be disseminated to practitioners in order to help identify which project(s) will be suitable for further research. I am also reviewing a little bit of the material or the PM4SD training. Not only will I be researching this program throughout the internship, but will also be striving to earn a Practitioner’s certification, which will empower me to apply the tools within the program to sustainable tourism projects, and perhaps even become a trainer.
I have learned a little about the goals of the organization as well, and although it may appear Europe centric at first, the intention is to become an internationally recognized and utilized program for global sustainable tourism efforts. Perhaps Florida would be a great location for the next satellite office? My mind is turning with opportunities to expand to the Caribbean, even, from there.
EDD15: I am registered for a conference on development and culture. This takes place the 3rd and 4th of June, and my advisor, Silvia Barbone, will be speaking. European Development Days aims to improve global equity by 2030, with a special focus on gender and sustainable development. This is extremely important and an issue that is very interesting to me. I will expand on this as I learn more and once the conference arrives.