I can remember the first day I was exposed me to the world of traveling abroad. My sixth grade teacher shared her summer vacation experiences traveling through Asia. She brought in Polaroid (hand-held photos for you New Schoolers) pictures of her family in Japan, Vietnam and Hong Kong, which at the time seemed so weird to me and other classmates to learn of a black people traveling to a place so far away. During her presentation, she spoke of how she enjoyed the journey, learned to speak Mandarin, dine with the locals and even dressed in the traditional wear during her visit. It would be years later that I would learn of another teacher that would experience going abroad, many classmates nor family never wanted embark on the challenge. When asked by my international colleagues why many Americans never traveled, especially African-Americans, you’re bomb rushed with a plethora of reasons such as some not having the resources, poor decision-making early in life, illness, lack of knowledge and exposure can account for large amounts of individuals not experiencing a life time treasure. While I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity the leave the United States, I often think of my community as I am now collecting my souvenirs and garments to share once I return back to my neighborhood one day.
I was 35 when I entered the globetrotting community and Asia was the first place I visited, who would have known! I’ve grown so much as an educator and even discover outside of the beautiful monuments, art work and food tours, I grown to enjoy people-watching. I admire large families who expose their children to the world of travel at such a young age. Although they may be too young to realize it, later in life many go on to develop into global citizens, speak many languages either verbal both non-verbal which also prepare them for rewarding professional careers. Being a realist, I know the thought of hopping on a plane and traveling across the globe for many young pupils in poverty-stricken communities are mere dreams but I strive to do my part by sharing and promoting the joy of travel with my old colleagues, students’ nieces and nephews. I dedicated much of my summer vacation traveling through the states, taking them on trips outside of the community and when time permits, weekend road trips will soon become a staple. I’m impressed with their language when they speak about our staycation in passing, I am certain they will develop the desire travel much sooner than later.
I met an avid traveler during one of my frequent airport layovers that spoke about the best birthday present she had received was a passport application along with a money order of the amount needed to complete the registration. It’s a great idea I plan to adopt for my family members in the near future. It’s as if history is repeating itself but with the help of technology and a more globalized society, dreamers are now becoming believers! If I could find that teacher, I would like to thank her for opening my eyes to a world outside of Chicago, Illinois, Midwest and the United States. A place that once seemed so large to me as young student, has now become so small. Yes, as clichéd as it sounds the sky’s the limit and it’s through the clouds you will begin to discovered that true learning comes from just observing the world, even if it through the experiences of others First!