Ambition is in the eye of the beholder

10 November 2010 Life

Tonight, I was working on an outline for the undergrad thesis I’m writing this term. It’s about waste management in the Lausanne region. Exciting stuff. Right?

Well, It was supposed to be a lot more exciting. At the beginning of the term I sat down with my advisor, starry-eyed, telling him of my plans to research the waste management system of Abuja, Nigeria, a city that’s been growing by 20-30% per year over the past couple decades. The growth was, and still is explosive, so much so that unruly slums started appearing despite the city’s best efforts at rigid urban design. Now, the people are flooding in and development can’t keep up. And all that waste has to go somewhere… it must be a nightmare trying to tame the garbage.

Cool, right?

Almost. My advisor took me down a few notches, pointing out that there’s not really any research on Abuja, and unless I was going to fly down there to do some myself, I’d have a hard time completing this undergrad thesis in five months.

So, plan B. I talked to my advisor about the garbage strike in Toronto a couple summers ago, and how it threw the whole system out of whack. He said a similar thing happened in Naples; maybe I could do a comparative study?

Well, that didn’t pan out either. I thought since I’m studying in Lausanne, I might as well use it as the European example, instead of Naples.

Then I dropped Toronto out of the picture.

So essentially my thesis is now comparing backyard composters to curbside waste collection. In Lausanne.

What’s this about a lack of ambition among young Canadian men?

Sam Nabi

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