Jordan Carey Adventure Learning Grant Application
Adventure Learning Grant Application
Getting By: A Socio-Journalistic Examination of Public Transportation as a Microcosm of
Human Life in Singapore, Portugal, and Ireland
Abstract: Public transportation is a microcosm of human life that temporarily encapsulates us as
we move through time and space. All public transportation users are getting from one place to
another; some are having the best day of their life, some are having the worst, and others are
simply getting by . I intend to improve my socio-journalistic skills by collecting interviews,
photographs, and videos that capture the human ecosystem of public transportation in Singapore,
Portugal, and Ireland. From a vibrant Instagram blog, to mobile exhibits, to teaching a class on
compassionate and connective interviewing, my priority is artistically and multidimensionally
engaging the Fairhaven community.
In 1988, my mother struck up a conversation on Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) with an
eccentric man named Rolando. They quickly became friends, and Rolando ended up being the
mutual friend my parents met through. Had she stayed silent on her daily work route, my mother
would have likely never met my father and I would have never been born.
I will be utilizing the following overarching questions to guide my learning: What
meaning and connections can be made when public transportation is treated like a living,
breathing time capsule? How does physical transportation through place interact with human
transportation through time? Delving into the following sub-questions will support me in
assessing my overarching question: Where are public transportation users in Singapore, Portugal,
and Ireland coming from and going in a literal, physical sense? Where are they coming from and
going in a figurative, emotional, sense? Pursuing “Getting By” will illuminate answers to these
questions and evoke infinite other questions. In addition to learning about the world, I suspect
much of my learning will lead to deeper self-knowledge and self-understanding. For instance:
Where do I fit within the human landscape of culture and place?
I chose Singapore, Ireland, and Portugal for their public transportation infrastructure,
English-speaking population, and safety level. In order to talk to people on public transportation,
the infrastructure and culture around it must exist. This proposal would not work well in the
United States, where suburban sprawl encourages personal car use. In Singapore, however, car
registration costs more than cars themselves, so people of all classes and backgrounds utilize its
robust public transportation system. I yearn to investigate the following questions: How do the
public transportation systems in Ireland, Singapore, and Portugal differ from one another and
from that of the United States? Who uses public transportation in Ireland, Singapore, and
Portugal? How might public transportation reflect a nation’s cultural attitudes, politics, and
degree of personal freedom?
Language is another factor I considered. Although I plan on learning as much Portuguese
as possible prior to traveling abroad, I will not realistically be able to maintain deep, complex
conversations in Portuguese. It is crucial to ask interviewees questions deeper than “what is your
name?” and to understand the nuances of their responses. I also considered friendliness towards
foreigners and safety for solo female travelers, as these impact my ability to optimize the grant.
Although many countries fit my criteria, I chose the three that I feel the most captivated by,
excited about, and curious about. Furthermore, all three countries are uniquely different from the
United States; Singaporean culture values order over personal freedom, Portugal is experiencing
new waves of immigration for the first time in centuries, and Ireland’s police are unarmed.
Despite my thorough research, I am unfamiliar with these unique cultures, which thrills me and
will allow me to challenge preconceived notions.
I fervently want the Adventure Learning Grant to be a part of my educational journey
because socio-journalism requires hands-on experience. Although I can technically learn about
Singapore’s multiculturalism and food philosophy online, I must physically visit hawker centers
if I want to strike up conversations with food vendors and taste Hainanese chicken rice
(and—believe me—I do).
Starting with the first plane ride, I will initiate conversations with strangers on public
transportation. I will break the ice with simple questions such as “where are you coming from?”
and “where are you going?” to prompt deeper discussion. No matter what happens, I will learn
more with every interaction and use this knowledge to improve my socio-journalistic skills.
If I encounter a particularly interesting story with an eager narrator, I intend to meet with
them at a later time and film our interview. Ideally, I will take photographs of the people I
interview, but my overriding goal is to remain as respectful and professional as possible by
respecting all boundaries. Hopping on different routes at different times will increase the
diversity of stories I hear and storytellers I meet. I am particularly intrigued by the types of
people and stories I might encounter in the early morning, and I wonder how time of day,
physical place, cardinal direction of travel, etc. might impact the human ecosystem of public
To prepare for writing this proposal, I researched different international issues and
cultures, attempting to find a city with unique quirks or a group of people living in extraordinary
ways. However, I realized that my passions and curiosities lie in the magic of the ordinary. My
ultimate yearning is to connect with people all over the world and bond over shared human
experiences. The Adventure Learning Grant would not only give me the incredible opportunity to
do this, but it would allow me to connect other Fairhaven students (and the greater Western
community) with humans across the globe.
I plan to share my experience with the Fairhaven community via a vibrant Instagram
blog, as well as a multimedia gallery night featuring the stories I have documented. I reached out
to Clare Casey, a past Adventure Learning Grant recipient, who said that incorporating one’s
experiences abroad is an ongoing event. Therefore, gallery night would certainly be just the
beginning. I envision presenting “Getting By” to classes relating to journalism, photojournalism,
intercultural communication and even urban planning. I also want to explore the ideas of
teaching a class on compassionate and connective interviewing, as well as partnering with
Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) to create small exhibits in buses, bus stops, and bus