Monday, December 1, 2008

Donald Duck and Nobel Peace Prizes

Hi, from Poland!

So far we've been having tons of fun. I've never traveled internationally before (I don't consider Canada as very foreign), and of course I don't speak Polish. Needless to say, I was quite nervous. Ask anyone--I always want to have a friend with me, or even better--a group, and I get nervous if I think they're going to leave me behind. And as almost everyone else knows, I never go anywhere without my cell phone. I have found, however, that I don't really miss it that much. Perhaps when I get back to the states I will accidentally leave it behind every once in a while... Nice thought, but I will admit, not likely. The most nerve-wracking thing about not having a phone is getting stranded by myself in a country where I don't speak the language. Even leaving JFK was slightly daunting--our plane and flight attendants were Polish, and most of the people on board were Polish. The good thing was that we watched Donald Duck on the plane, and he doesn't really say anything, so it was easy to understand.

One of the goods things is that we arrived in Poznan fairly early, and we had a couple of days to wander around and get rid of the jet lag. After getting used to the city for a while, figuring out the tram and bus systems (at least enough to get us to and from our houses), we finally started the United Nations portion of our journey. Today we went to the plenary session, which was the opening of the conference. We say the mayor of Poland, the conference's old and new presidents, the Prime Minister of Denmark (where next year's conference will take place), the president of the IPCC, and many others. The last man, Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, internationally-known, and quite famous. I walked out of the room right next to him. It was a celebrity moment. I got very giddy and nervous at the same time. While I wasn't quite confident enough to talk to him (I didn't want to bother him and interupt his current conversation), I did step behind him a bit and take a picture. I thought it would be rude to snap one right in his face, although I'm sure he's used to this. I wish I had been courageous enough to simply ask him to take a picture with me...

In other news, the conference is amazing. There are people from all over the world, speaking many different languages, wearing many different styles of dress (but western business is still the norm), and discussing very important issues. We will be attending several more sessions later tonight where we will begin to hear actual debate and discussions on environmental issues, but we still have the whole week to attend more. Around the conference (which is housed in many different buildings in the same general area) there are booths set up for organizations to display their environmental information. I talked to Claire, the woman representing the United States, about what she does, how she got here, and such. I may have just figured out what I want to do with my life... We'll see about that I suppose.

This is definitely worth missing a week of class for.


P.S. I have yet to see the Sun in Poland.

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