Ryan Buck: Little Black Dots on the Other Side of the World

Ryan Buck is a Senior Transportation Planner in Michigan. He specializes in non-motorized planning and travel demand modeling. In his free time, Ryan enjoys traveling the world, running, map making, and writing for his own geography blog, http://www.worldgeoblog.com.

Ryan_Buck_Pic.jpgAs a kid I was amazed by the multitude of cities and places found on maps or globes.  I wondered what Madagascar looked like and what the people who lived in Novosibirsk were like.  After seeing pictures of a place like Angel Falls on TV, I would go find it on a map and be intrigued that something so mammoth and enigmatic could be displayed by a tiny symbol.  Maps are filled with tiny black dots, each representing a city.   Those dots also represent the stories, history, and experiences of the people who live there.  Thinking of the millions of stories behind each tiny black dot on a map makes the world seem like an endless wonder of culture and geography.

Eventually for me, pictures and stories were not enough, and I found it was time for an adventure to one of these far-away places.  I wanted to have a better understanding of how life was different in one of those little black dots on the other side of the world and needed to go there to really experience it.

My curiosity led me to rural Tanzania, which seemed as far away – both physically and culturally – as I could get. With help from Global Volunteers, I was teamed up with a private school in rural Tanzania in the Village of Pommern, about two hours south of Iringa. 

While there, my assignment at the school entailed teaching computers and geography.  In preparation, I developed some basic lesson plans and even pulled a few things out of my old Computer Science book for class.  When I finally made it to the school after 17 hours worth of flying and nine hours of driving, I realized I was going to have to throw my lesson plans out the window and start from scratch.

Continue reading Ryan’s full post on his blog!

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