Monday, June 6, 2016

Travel Reflections

By Alicia Steger
Student at Trinity Washington University

Trusting yourself and trusting those around you are difficult paths to follow. Two days ago I was sitting in a New York airport. Now, I am seated outside of a cabin on Samsø. Planes, trains, and automobiles, at least ones that drive atop the sea, can accurately describe the last forty eight hours. I have been through three major airports, as well as the center of Copenhagen, the rural coastal region of Kalundborg, and have arrived at my final destination at Ballen Strandcamping on Samsø. Over the next week I will be looking closely at the agricultural systems of Samsø, and how societal values and norms intertwine through formal and informal institutions.

My first views of Samsø are seen on foot. The route from the ferry dock to the cabin holds abundant species of plants, well tended to livestock, and immaculate personal gardens. Each living things sparks new points of interest and focus for my time spent in this beautiful community. 

 The reoccurring theme of my journey so far has been the codependent trust of community members. Throughout the busy streets of Copenhagen to the rural corners of Kalundborg, bikes remain unlocked. Bathrooms exist openly and available to individuals of all genders. Few and far between are the officials monitoring public transportation. There are no gates to check your fare card, and I have only encountered one physical ticket check. A train conductor passed through car after car, speaking good morning with a smile, and leisurely ensured that every passenger was upholding the responsibility their public system had assigned to them.

I have seen this type of trust at home, but only in rural less populated regions surrounding the D.C. Metropolitan area. I live around an hour from the nation’s capital. Here in Southern Maryland, you will find “honor systems” as a means of selling produce. Because of the other obligations these producers have, goods are simply left displayed at the side of the road with an unmanned box for monetary exchange. I remember one of the first times I encountered such a system. I was so taken aback that people would trust others to do the “right and just” action. Just over the first few days of this journey, I am learning that there is an extreme amount of untapped potential for trust of co-inhabitants of this planet. The most prominent thought now, is how do we move towards this type of communal bond? Hopefully this week on Samsø holds the insight needed.