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Letter from the Editor—Fall 2021

People walking across a crosswalk (image taken from above).

People-watching is one of my favorite travel activities. I’ve seen a lot of interesting individuals over the years, but some of my most interesting finds are a man in a pink onesie smoking on a street corner in Pescara, Italy; an extremely sunburnt couple kissing in line at Disneyland in Anaheim, California; and a group of Speedo-clad teen-agers covered from head to toe in peanut butter in Provo, Utah. What makes people-watching so fun is observing how people adhere to or deviate from the cultures they are a part of. It reminds me that the places I visit are much less exciting without the people I meet while I’m there. I can’t imagine the time I spent living in Italy without the friendships I made with grandmothers in their kitchens. Disneyland wouldn’t have been as thrilling without seeing the diversity of the crowd that gathered there. Studying in Provo would have been less meaningful without the mentors and classmates that taught me much more than my textbooks ever did. When we travel, the connections we make with the people around us are ultimately what we will remember most. We can most easily form these relationships when we are respectful of the cultures, environments, and com-munities we interact with. This issue of Stowaway includes an entire section dedicated to articles about being a “conscious traveler.” This term has many implications. Brooklyn Hughes discusses how being a conscious traveler means respecting the environment through sustainable travel options. For Emily Pearson, it means being aware of locals’ views on the tourists that visit their home. For Hannah Rogers, it means honoring those who find exciting adventures in their own community. For me, being a conscious traveler means being an observer. I can learn about the places I travel to when I pay attention to how people interact with their own culture and others. This is why, no matter how tightly crammed my travel itinerary is, I always make time to people-watch. I hope that the articles in this magazine will help you reflect on how you can become a conscious traveler. When we learn to respect the places we visit in meaningful ways, we will maximize on the relationships we form during our vacations.

Keirsten Meyer