It was in the early 1980′s that I flew to Dallas and met up with my cousin and from there we traveled to Amsterdam for a four-week long service project. We lived in humongous tents (50 girls in one and 50 guys in the other) at a campground outside of the city. Every day we’d eat breakfast and take off for the city on their public transportation system and all day, every day, we were assigned various work duties.
I was twenty when I first traveled out of the U.S. and that month outside of the American borders changed my life…changed me.
Since that trip, I’ve only been outside the U.S. traveling to Canada several times and to Italy twice. Canada didn’t change me. Italy did.
I think part of every person’s education should include a few weeks outside of the U.S…and going on a cruise or to a fancy resort doesn’t count.
To really get a feel for how other people live and move and have their being in a foreign country…you have to walk amongst them, eat with them, work with them…you just do.
And talking their language doesn’t mean you have to speak their language…
One of the most important lessons I learned was that the right hand gestures and a welcoming smile can communicate more than any amount of my lame attempts at speaking Italian.
People the world over are really different.
People the world over are really the same.
I know…you’re thinking it can’t be both…but the truth is…it is.
So as I’m contemplating my little seasons of travel over the years…I’m getting excited for Thursday to arrive.
On that day I’ll be parking myself at Detroit Metro awaiting my son’s arrival home from seven weeks (count ‘em…seven long weeks) overseas.
I know this trip changed him. I also know he won’t even know how much until he’s been back in the U.S. for awhile. And, I also know he’ll feel he doesn’t fit here anymore…but that’s okay.
Coming home again is always a combination of comfortable and uncomfortable.
Some experiences that take you there and back again aren’t about fitting in anymore…they’re about drinking it in and letting all the memories slowly simmer to the surface at opportune (and sometimes inopportune) moments. But it’s all good.
Oh, and about this photo? My son took this one somewhere in Rome…and I’m so glad he did. I tried to convince him before he left to make sure and certain he visited the Galleria Borghese to see up close the awesome Bernini sculptures…well, I’d say he got the message. There isn’t anything like these lifelike works of art…getting up close to these magnificent works alone will change a person. And that’s for sure and certain.