Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I Simply MUST Travel

My French "sister" and me
circa 1977
Since the age of eight, I have had a desire to travel.  That was the year I began French lessons, and I remember visiting my parents' friends whose son had just returned from his junior year abroad.  Looking at his pictures and postcards of Paris, I vowed that one day I would have the same experience.

In high school that dream came true. I participated in a three-week trip abroad where I stayed with a French family in Arcachon, France. This only whet my appetite, however. I desired to visit other European countries and experience them as a native:  living in the local neighborhoods, eating the customary cuisine, and speaking their language.

NYC skyline 1984-1988
The years we lived in the Village
After college (where I majored in French) my husband and I moved to New York City.  We lived for four years in Greenwich Village. While there I discovered a love of large metropolitan cities. They are not cold and austere, as I once thought, but rather  a collection of small intimate neighborhoods. Commerce is predominantly specialty shops where relationships are formed with regular customers. My traveling dream grew to include various regions of our diverse country.

We entertained the idea of traveling as a couple, but decided to start a family instead. Over the next two decades, we moved to the Midwest, raised three children, and I pursued a teaching career. We assumed adventurous travel was no longer an option, and I was grateful for the high school experience.

However, life has a way of coming full circle.

the Totoros at Abbey Road - 2007
In 2006, the first year I taught British Literature, I was desperate to find a way to make these classics relevant to students. Driving home from school one afternoon I thought: what if these students could experience England the way I experienced France? 

A bit of internet research led me to the EF Tours website, and the following year I led a group of thirteen on a one week trip to London.  For many, this was their first European experience, and my passion for travel rekindled.

"My kids" in Florence - 2015
Many of them I'd taught since elementary school
Since that time I have led two more groups, and plan to take a third in March, 2017. We will visit London, Paris, Florence, Rome, Pompeii, and Capri in twelve days - and I am as excited now as I was back in 1977 when I went to Paris for the first time.

Traveling is in my blood. It has remained a heart's desire for nearly five decades. While it lay dormant for a while, and hope faded, ultimately the promise found in Psalm 37:4 came to fruition:

Take delight in the Lord, and HE will give you the desires of your heart.
Traveling is at the core of who I am. I not only want to experience these different cultures for myself, but I want to inspire young students to travel as well. That is why I continue to lead groups to Europe - and why I write Middle Grade historical fiction. 

I look forward to sharing these personal experiences with you. While past blog posts have focused primarily on Paris (my true love), I also want to share stories of other places I've traveled through the years - and those I will visit in the future. Hopefully you will enjoy traveling along with me - and perhaps my stories will inspire you to plan a trip of your own.

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