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Sparky sees the world

September 16, 2009

We all know that Sparky goes to a lot of football games, but did you realize he’s a world traveler, too?

The ever-smiling mascot has been seen – and photographed – in Austria, India, Italy, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Portugal, Canada, Norway, Fiji, Australia, Mexico, Panama, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica.

And that was just this past summer.

Sparky did have a little help in making his journey, which included stops in 10 U.S. states. Actually, there were 10 Sparkys on the road this past summer, escorted by 10 faculty, staff and students from the School of Community Resources and Development in the College of Public Programs.

“Sparky Abroad” was the idea of Lynne Kincaid, executive assistant for the School of Community Resources, and Scott Smas, business manager.

“Lynne and I wanted to do a unique community-building event that would coincide with our school mission of ‘enhancing cultural, environmental, and economic well-being of communities through instruction, discovery and service,’” Smas says.

“We thought this would be a good way to show how diverse our school is. We knew who would be traveling, and we asked them to take Sparky along and photograph him at each location.”

At first, only the travelers knew about the scheme. They e-mailed their photos to Kincaid and Smas, who took turns posting them in the school reception area before the workday started.

“The faculty and staff began to wonder who was putting the photos up and how they got Sparky in them,” Smas says. Soon, the secret was out, and everyone began to anticipate the uniquely ASU travelogue.

“At the start of this semester, we unveiled a large world map with a photo from each traveler and each location Sparky went,” Smas says. “All the photos are in a book that people can look through in the reception area.”

In his busy summer, Sparky went with students in the study abroad classes, helped present papers at international conferences, and was engaged in research across the United States and overseas.

He will get no rest this academic year. Though he won’t be taking classes, he’ll be on the road again, helping spread the word about ASU and the School of Community Resources.