Students christen conversation on water
By Samantha Shockley, ’12
Water — it drips from the sky, it fills up puddles, it covers 75 percent of the earth’s surface. Its boundless power can sustain life and its pollution can eliminate nations. Water is essential to everyone and everything.
As a study abroad student I have tasted dirty water — water that makes you sick. We do not know what it is like to live without clean water in the United States. We turn on the faucet and drink without reservation or fear. Nevertheless, we will understand its limits if we do not act now. That, at least, is the view of the PLU study abroad students during the student session of PLU’s Water Symposium.
The theme of the evening of student presentation was “What I Have Learned about Water from My Studies, Research and Travels.” This caused me to reflect on my past study abroad experiences. I have studied away twice since I became a PLU student; once in London, England, and this last January in Quito, Ecuador.
In both places, my classmates and I were told not to drink the tap water. Even in London, a First World Country, our professor advised us only to drink bottled water. In Quito, we were told that the water would make us sick. If the rivers and lakes were muddy, stay out of them, they told us. This was a foreign concept for myself and my peers. With this in mind, I sat in on the student session.
This event featured the voices of PLU study abroad students. Their voices spoke out against water contamination. The world needs clean water. We all know that, we all understand that water needs to be sanitized. The “how” is the overriding question.
When I went to Ecuador, I was told what I could and should not drink local water. I was told that if the river or lake water was brown to not swim in it. The study away students from PLU pooled together their experiences, talked about the crisis, and asked: what can we do?
Senior Stena Troyer, a student who studied in Australia, commented on the cups and plastic bags that we throw away. Troyer left us with a question: “What can your two hands do for water?”
While it was comforting to see the majority of the people in the room were students, it was disheartening to see the lack of passion and emotion the students evoked during their presentations.
The best question came at the end when Ethan Manthany, a PLU student speaker, asked, “What if water was not governed by money?”
Yet this provoked no reaction from the student audience.
Everyone agreed that water is a necessity. It is contaminated. Plastic water bottles and cups do affect the ocean and contribute to contamination. Every one of these things is tragic. These students are a group of students who wanted change. They saw a problem and wanted the information to change their audience.
In the end, this symposium is supposed to feed PLU and the community’s hunger for the protection of water. This student session watered my thoughts and carried me back to my experience overseas and just how lucky we are and how much we have to learn and give back.