You’ve probably heard about the five regions identified and discussed by Buettner in the book The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People. These include Okinawa (Japan); Sardinia (Italy); Nicoya (Costa Rica); Ikaria (Greece); and the Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California. In his TEDMED 2011 talk, Buettner explained that eating a plant-based diet, limiting carbs, consuming nuts and beans, and drinking some wine are intuitive, but people with a strong sense of purpose and people who have a faith-based community are also living longer. Exercise doesn’t happen in the gym, but in everyday continuous lifestyle.
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) is running a program this summer called Greece: From Danger Zone to Blue Zone. The objective is to understand the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical, and social dimensions of wellness within Ikaria. Students will spend 14 days asking themselves “how and why” individuals in a Blue Zone live to 100 years and beyond. They will examine the healthy lifestyles, purpose of life, and happiness in Ikaria, and personally apply these longevity lessons to their own lives. This is my kind of program, and it looks like UNCW is the only one currently being offered.
Communities are getting serious about Blue Zones, too. Tarrant County College is among the first organizations in Fort Worth to participate in Blue Zones Project, “a community-wide well-being initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to environment, policy and social networks.” They want everyone on board—from worksites to schools to restaurants to grocery stores. Many other colleges are becoming Blue Zone worksites, too.
I also looked up each Blue Zone area using the key words “study abroad.” Here are the results:
Ikarian Centre – A modern Greek language school that offers year-round full immersion intensive language courses at all levels. They might be interested in doing something more.
Indiana University of South Bend had a Spring Break in Costa Rica that went this year in March. The department of Sociology and Anthropology, in cooperation with the Office of International Programs and Center, offered a unique opportunity to spend two weeks studying culture, society, and environment. The program was based at one of their partner institutions, the Academia de Español Nicoya, with programs at Samara Beach and service projects in the rural highlands of Nosarita.
Of course there are many programs to choose from here. If you’re interested in being listed, let me know.
The University of Washington is offering a summer program here called Sardinia: Island Migrations, Health and Social Justice in the Mediterranean. It will be centered in Alghero, a city on the northwest shore, where they will connect with Romani and immigrant communities struggling to achieve equality at the margins of Italian society.
Try Loma Linda University; it’s the only way you can “study” there.
Thanks for reading. Happy Blue Zoning!