Meet the SLS Blogger for Fall 2019 – Blake Underwood!

“If I stand between a stone and an iron plate, I am sometimes able to have a vision of the past and the distant future.” Lee Ufan

My name is Arleta Underwood, but you can call me by my middle name, Blake. I’m currently studying Industrial Design at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. I’m pursuing a minor in the French language and hope to pursue a minor in Sustainable Cities in the future. This fall marks the third year that I’ve been studying at the university, and it also marks the first semester that I’ve been outside the United States. I know, exciting, right? I’ve known that I was going to travel since I was a little girl and have dreamt of this day for a long time. In my wait, I developed a love of music and of education, learning is one of my deepest passions. Nature is where I find solitude, often picking a shady spot under trees to sit and read whatever book I’ve managed to slip into.

I haven’t been too caught up in my typical everyday Blake activities for the past week, though, because the environment of Metz has been too full of amazing opportunities and excitement. The students, after arriving in the city and managing to settle down in the dorms, began their classes at Georgia Tech Lorraine. We were introduced to our curriculum for the semester, some engineering, some math, some French and sustainability, like me. After our studies during the day, groups of us would often seek out the festivities of the ongoing fête de la Mirabelle (festival of the Mirabelle), a plum that’s considered a specialty in the Lorraine region.

In particular, there were multiple concerts to attend in front of the famed Cathedral of Saint Stephen (Metz Cathedral), including a laser show on one side of the grand building. The festivities came to a close this past Sunday after a lovely parade through the city center complete with floats covered in flowers, representing different groups in Metz, musicians (drummers and woodwinds alike), and people dancing in beautiful costumes. The Pompidou Centre was another popular attraction for students this week (perhaps because of our free admission). I became inspired by the gravity of each floor, each thoughtfully prepared with every intention of the artist in mind. I was genuinely entranced and gripped by each of the exhibitions, particularly the gallery of Lee Ufan, who’s quote I have at the beginning of this post. He was especially focused on the ideas of natural and industrial elements, time, and specifically, the notion of infinity.

Along with enjoying the celebrations in the city of Metz, two groups of students, including myself, were given walking tours around some richly historic buildings. Some were built as early as the age of the Romans, having being knocked over and rebuilt by Germans centuries later. There is a lot of mixing of different cultures in Metz, its practically in the center of Europe, and this is what makes its history so wide and interesting. Like how the Moselle and Seille rivers twist and turn through the city, so too did the different habitants of the region mold the heritage of Metz.

Regarding matters of community efforts in sustainability, Dr. Kozhanova and I were able to partake in a community garden session, cleaning excess growth from a garden bed and harvesting what had ripened over the past week. We added the waste to the compost pile and watched as other people from the neighboring townhomes and apartments came down to contribute their food waste to the pile as well. People would bring buckets and bags, speaking with Delfine, the representative for the garden, dumping them along the way. There was a greater sense of good and proactivity in what we were all doing at the garden, and I can’t wait to go again this coming Saturday.

I look forward to an action packed semester with you all as your Serve Learn Sustain blogger. Au Revoir!