Thursday, August 14, 2014

Salt Lake City, Utah

Utah has its own magic. As soon as I landed in SLC Airport, I was amazed by the snowy mountains surrounding the city from all different sides. The weather was colder than in Portland, and the city seemed to be quieter. 

McKenzie, a close friend of mine who was interning with me in Switzerland in the summer of 2013, is from Salt Lake City. She was kind enough to not only be my guide in Utah, but also my host during the few days I stayed there. 

Salt Lake City was too gray. It was not too crowded or noisy. Snow was still covering the ground and the buildings and everything else just looked peaceful. I was carrying my back bag, my phone and my camera with me, making sure to capture any scene that I found beautiful and unusual. McKenzie was telling me fascinating stories about the city, its astonishing history and its founders, as I walked behind her, looking at every building, every street, listening to the sounds of the city and trying to feel what it was like to be in SLC on that day. 

Not too far from the city center, I could see the most valuable monument in the city: The Temple. The SLC Temple is located in an open area called Temple Square and is certainly the most shining and most prestigious building in the city. It is not only a religious monument, but also a unique symbol that represents the capital of the state of Utah. The Utah State Capitol is just as gorgeous as the Temple. I was not surprised when I met European tourists who were inside the Capitol. 

Provo is where I stayed during my journey in Utah. The city of Provo is not too far from SLC. We took a train to get to Provo where McKenzie’s father was waiting for us in his car. The next day was another great day. It was the day where I got to discover a big part of my McKenzie’s life. Provo is the second biggest city in Utah, and is an excellent area for people who have a strong passion for nature, just like myself. I often got the chance to see some wilderness in the streets, and I was fortunate to go on a road trip all the way to Midway, a place that reminded us of our days in Switzerland, another wonder of Utah. The last day of my stay in Provo, McKenzie and her mom took me to the airport, we hugged, we cried, and then I got on the plane that was flying to Denver, Colorado. 


McKenzie, Bri, and I, in front of the Temple

Salt Lake City seen from the top of The LDS church office building

Utah State Capitol

McKenzie and I driving in Provo

Monday, August 4, 2014

Nouakchott - Mauritania

A hotel in downtown Nouakchott

In Nouakchott life is different. I have been here for a few days now, and I am still learning about the Mauritanian society and culture. I am not the first person to move to Mauritania and certainly not the last one. However, I have been receiving worried phone calls and emails from friends and family, who, to some extent, were not welcoming the idea of working and living in Mauritania.
This country is in fact gorgeous. Just like any other country, it makes me think differently. It gives me new ideas and it makes me a more knowledgeable person. Life is relatively slow, simple and quiet. Mauritanians are hospitable people who have a strong desire to work and benefit their communities. It is true that working conditions are not very favourable; however, this is exactly what makes Mauritania unique, and my work challenging.

Working for the United Nations is just as special as working in Mauritania. Facing too many challenges and having access to limited resources makes my stay here a special experience that will certainly help me grow in character and in depth of understanding. Sometimes we need to immerse ourselves in a place that we usually do not hear of in the news, a place that people do not look forward to go to, a place that is waiting for new visitors.
Nouakchott is the beating heart of Mauritania. With less than a million people, it is the largest city in the country and one of the largest cities in the Sahara. It combines the magnificence of the Sahara with the greatness of the Atlantic Ocean. This scene is not very common, and it creates a new perspective of life.

Being one of the residents of Mauritania is something very special. It helps me understand how people lived here for years and how people deal with their struggles as I dealt with mine while I was in New York, except, our struggles are undoubtedly very, very different. The beauty of this country is found in the habits and traditions of the people who, very spontaneously, just want to carry on and keep doing what they have been doing for a long time. Despite the weather conditions, the limited resources and the high poverty rate, they have succeeded in being simple people, patient, persistent, who do not look up to commodities of life, and that is what makes them a great nation that happens to be infamous.  


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Travelling for Peace

Now I became aware of how this world functions, to some extent. I started to learn more about my life and understand how it is like to live beyond my own borders and have new people in my life. 

We are many, living on this earth, people of different countries, cultures, ethnicities, religions and traditions, but also, people of different ideas. This great diversity should serve nothing but peace. It is essential to open our eyes, our hearts and our minds to new perspectives and cooperate to find innovative solutions for global challenges that concern every single human on the planet. Because peace is our only option, and because building peace is the key to human advancement, we need to make our lives of use, to ourselves and to others and work on promoting a safe and peaceful future for the next generations. 

I like to associate the term "peace" to travelling because I believe knowing more about people and where they come from is a way to establishing relationships with them. Cooperation, comprehensiveness and mutual help are all great contributors to building peace and promoting intercultural dialogue.