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Advance on the “Crowded Out: A Story of Overtourism” Panel and Discussion

From 7:30-8:30 pm on Wednesday, November 14 in Sussman Theater, there will be an educational and fun event being held. This event includes a showing of “Crowded Out: A Story of Overtourism” from a company called Responsible Travel. Following the documentary, there will be a panel of students answering questions.

            Aspen Walters, a junior who is double majoring in international business and environmental sustainability and resilience is putting this event together. Last spring, Walters studied abroad in South America through Drake University’s affiliate partner, Academic Programs International.

            After she returned from South America, she became an API Global Leader. This organization selectively chooses students from all over the United States to be Global Leaders. If selected, they fly you down to their headquarters in Austin, Texas for training.

            “I was selected to be an API Global Leader and for this position I work to create, market, budget and host 12 events throughout the school year centered around and promoting study abroad”, Walters said. “We are given lots of creativity with these events and are allowed to create events that we think are meaningful to our campus.”

            The documentary that will be shown talks about overtourism and how to be respectful toward locals and their communities because it is their home. The panel that is following the documentary will consist of two professors and two students. The professors areDavid Courard-Hauri and Jeff Kappen. The students are Bailey Matlock and Shayla Carey. 

Walters will be asking the panelists questions related to the documentary and about their experiences traveling and living in other countries.

Matlock, one of the panelists, is studying international relations, religion, Spanish, and French. This is not Matlock’s first time participating in Drake panels.

I became involved with the panel because I believe that the issues it is speaking to are important to address, especially at a university who promotes studying abroad,” Matlock said. “I really think that it is important for our students to know what societies they may be operating in.”

Karen Williams is the study abroad advisor and is attending the event in support of Walters who is also her co-worker. Williams has already watched the documentary. Tourist destinations and tourism has increased in the last 15-20 years, Williams explained. There is a growing middle class in many Asian countries which has caused millions more of Asian tourists to traveling. However, it is just not people from Asia that are causing the overtourism, it is people from all over the world.

“The amount of tourism happening is putting a strain on a lot of those environments,” Williams said. “Even though it is good for business and places that depend on tourists, but it puts a strain on the whole system: public transportation and sight-seeing destinations.”

For example, in Vatican City, Rome, they are putting caps on the amount of people allowed in museums. 

“People are packed into places like sardines in Vatican City, Rome,” Williams said. They are starting to put caps on the amount of people allowed in each museum.” 

Another issue of overtourism is the action of the tourists and how locals tend to feel disrespected, Williams explained.

“If the locals want to go enjoy the local park, in some cases, tourists aren’t always respectful,” Williams said. “For example, in Iceland, there is moss that grows all over the island and it takes 100 of years to grow. Tourists take the moss up and damaged an eco-system but the tourists don’t know that it is hurting the environment,” Williams explained.

This event can be beneficial to not only the country you are going to visit, but also can benefit the tourists. The panelists will answer any question thrown their way and are happy to help.

“I would recommend that people go listen to this panel because this event will hopefully raise awareness for how we can all be better citizens,” Williams said. “Also, do research before you go somewhere to see what they value because then you are less likely to be disrespectful when visiting.

Speaker: Tom Hallman Jr. 

Drake University’s students, faculty and the general public had the opportunity to listen to a Pulitzer Prize-winning feature writer for the Portland Oregonian, Tom Hallman Jr. From 7-9 p.m. on Nov. 27 in the Library Meeting Room. Hallman shared emotional and heartwarming stories where he opened up about people and their unique experiences.

Hallman has also written for magazines including Esquire, Reader’s Digest and Men’s Health. In addition to his Pulitzer, Hallman has won every major feature-writing award.

“Writing is about making a choice,” Hallman said. “Things really changed in 1994 when I started to believe the way I saw the world was good and unique, not better but different.”

Hallman explained that one of the most impactful stories he wrote about was about the Shriners Hospital for Children in Portland, Oregon. He chose to write about the kids that get to attend the prom that the hospital holds for kids that can’t go to a normal school dance without the fear of getting weird looks and being left out.

Hallman chose focus on the parents of children. Hallman said he doesn’t just focus on interviews, he focuses on things he sees and feels.

“Life has meaning but stories give it structure,” Hallman said. “The compass that guides you to your story is how you feel and see.”

Hallman put himself in a neutral place when he talks with people and uses no judgement, whether it is a serial killer or a brain surgeon, Hallman explained.

“Reporting depends on access and you have to dance with the people you are working with,” Hallman said. “You bring you to the story by listening to them and finding out the meaning and once you get into their world, you get the arc of what their life is about.”

Professor Catherine Staub was the organizer of Hallman’s speech. It started through Kathleen Richardson, the dean of the Journalism and Mass Communications school. Hallman had reached out to her a year ago and passed his contact information along to Staub.

“It was challenging to find a time for Hallman to come speak at Drake with his busy schedule,” Staub said. “But I think that is what makes him so valuable and contributes to our students and faculty.”

Hallman not only shares memories that he experiences, but turns them into a story so people are able to connect with not only his stories but themselves.

“Because of that emotional connection in his stories and it is a universal human emotion, it resonates with all of his readers,” Staub said. “There are these underlying human emotions that everyone experiences, and when Tom draws those out, it touches each of us.”

Julia Cleary, a sophomore, attended last minute with a friend who went for a class.

“He doesn’t sugar coat things which I think is awesome. He talks about real life and things that matter,” Cleary said. “He is so real and down to earth that I felt like I was listening to one of my professors tell stories about his life.”

Cleary said, “After listening to Hallman, I am excited to see how my perspective will change every time I meet someone new and how I will feel.”