Seeing the world in a new way

Marcel Proust said “The true voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” I believe that is only partly true. My sense, having just returned from Abu Dhabi and new landscapes (desert on sea) for me, is that one can view new landscapes with new eyes. Suddenly, one’s lens on the world shifts. I do not think I will ever see the world in exactly the same way – an extra dimension of complexity has been added.

I keep coming back to comments we heard from United Arab Emirates (UAE) colleagues about how difficult it is for Muslim students to get visas to attend American universities and what that will mean for us. The web of relationships that people build in universities could be denied to us if we are not able to fix the student immigration problem. Let’s face it, if Middle Eastern students don’t come to the U.S. for education, their loyalties and connections will be elsewhere. When they graduate and engage in commerce, whose products will they buy? Who will be their consultants? To what schools will they send their students? As that part of the world becomes increasingly wealthy, how will that affect our economy? We should be concerned. And that doesn’t even address other issues of social justice, fairness and enlightened self-interest.

I thought my blog readers might enjoy seeing some pictures from our trip to the UAE. The file includes pictures taken by Mike Aitken (chair, Environmental Sciences and Engineering); Ivan Rusyn (associate professor, ESE); and me.

You will need to have Flash Player on your computer to view the slideshow.

We also traveled with Jackie MacDonald (assistant professor, ESE); Andy Olshan (chair, Epidemiology); and Bill Sollecito (director, Public Health Leadership Program). Colleagues from RAND and UAE University joined us. Our UAE colleagues included Magid Al-Mansouri (Secretary General, Environmental Agency, Abu Dhabi) and other senior agency people and Dr. Khan from the World Health Organization.

Falcons are to the Emirates what the eagle is to us and then some. It was quite exciting to get to hold a falcon (see pictures).

“Learn to see, and then you’ll know that there is no end to the new worlds of our vision.” Carlos Castenada

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