I'm watching the Vancouver Marathon from my apartment window and giggling as seagulls drift by at eye-level. Canada represents my final destination of this academic year, and though it was an exciting year and an important one for my own growth, I am glad it's behind me.
Traveling with a math expert this year introduced me to the beauty of slow data. With every car ride or room change, she plugged miles traversed or beds switched into a spreadsheet. By the end of 220 days "on the road," she presented to us the impressive numbers of our #cdtravels:
- 110,745 kilometers of transit = 2.76 times around the world
- Total hours on planes, trains & automobiles (not layovers or wait time): 246 hours / 6 work weeks
- 50 beds roughly, averaging 4.4 nights per bed
If you're wondering why I spent the last year making an epic carbon footprint (not proud of that), take a peek at the TGS Changemaker Program and read my post on this curriculum development mission. If you're not sure how I went from travel media to writing curriculum documents for a high school, I understand your confusion. It surprised me, too. Here's something on my evolution.
Last year at this time, I was living in Florence, Italy with THINK Global School, plugging away at graduate school and enjoying as stable a lifestyle as I've achieved in the last decade. Between then and now, I changed jobs, visited ten countries, and wrote two years of projects with three colleagues.
Here's what it was like... Read More
On August 1st, I started my new job, and I could use your help, if you're interested.
After five years of living in thirteen countries, I'm saying goodbye to the Media Specialist position at THINK Global School. I'm 90% energized to move forward and 10% nostalgic for the sweetest job on the planet.
Featured photo courtesy of Liisa Toomus Read More
Together, we ignore the folk music that fills every conversation gap and develop our bitter coffee breath. Turtle-Neck nudges the stool where my feet rest and quickly apologies with a wave. I crack a full smile, eager to be acknowledged, quick to prove I’m open to chatter myself, though we exchange none. The Daydreamer folds his paper and stands to deliver 1 KM to the bar for his espresso before walking out the door. He waits a beat before turning right, then walks straight towards his car. I notice the others don’t question his departure. He backtracks to the edge of the patio and turns left to saunter by the rest of the shops on the ground floor, hands in pockets–breaking for oxygen, I imagine. The patio door swings open again, and the newest member lifts a cheek onto a stool, pulling his Marlboros from a pocket as first order of business. Read More
I continue to mull over my initial impressions of this city as they compare to my pre-conceptions without extensive research. How do I explain the feeling of dropping into a new city whose energy I don't know? What are the true risks to safety? Where's the highest concentration of lively people, impressive food, and gorgeous architecture? What does life feel like in this city, and how ever-present is the memory of its recent war? Read More
I keep erasing the opening sentence of this blog because I don't know who I'm addressing. You, my audience, are unknown to me, but I know I have something to tell you. I know it's time to update you on what has changed since I last applied the necessary time and effort on Nomadderwhere this summer, and now is as good a time as any, here in the Air France lounge at Washington Dulles airport. I have three more hours until my plane departs for Vermont. Read More
Each streak garnered the same reaction. The crowd grew, feed still with fingers pointing to the sky. And then a streak became a band, a dim bow across the sky above that slowly grew in intensity. We were babies bouncing under a green headband in the sky. Read More
To my knowledge, there is no perfect equation that all can use in order to strike that balance between experience and processing time. Homework, books, projects, trips, community building, sports, and other desires or pressures will tug at one’s attention and make it difficult to prioritize processing time for maximum personal benefit.
Over my years on the road, I have witnessed in people who prioritize - even slightly - the documentation of their experiences:
- more emotional stability
- more ease with forming concluding thoughts about a place or experience
- more clarity in drive or future path
It will take time to experiment with travel writing techniques in order to access inner thoughts, make the most meaning out of your world experiences, and utilize time most wisely for maximum gain. That time, however, will be fun and rewarding. Read More
I had heavenly expectations of the highland air. I thought it would be uncommonly sweet, a cold drink of water for my lungs. Instead, the air I invited in smelled like fresh biology, life and death but more of the former. Somewhere nearby, there was undoubtedly a cow sweating, a rooster breathing heavily, an earthworm realizing it could now slither back underground. From a 1st floor window, I sucked up all that biology in a moment of wonder and discovery, in the specialness of a start. Read More
When one has access to the world’s biggest showcase of artistic performances, one’s brain explodes as the prospect of selecting a few to attend. After many careful reviews of the 440-page catalogue, I landed on a visit to the Picasso/Lee Miller exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, a couple walks through St. Andrews Square and George Street, some free comedy in the wee hours of night in Old Town, and stayed close to the Edinburgh Book Festival, also the largest fest of its kind in the world.
It was the Book Fest that slapped some perspective into this dream world of creative indulgence. Read More
I started reading this book on my parents' couch and ended it while sipping a freddo latte and eavesdropping on a spirited conversation in Greek, having traversed the very globe whose projections I was studying. Upon flipping to the Acknowledgements page, I returned to the start, hoping that the book magically transformed into part 2 of itself. But alas, I am only left with a deeper admiration for cartography, a better understanding of the accessories of my life, and an awareness of the things that evoke my cherished memories and imagination.
My hands smell of (free) salt and vinegar chips as I type away from within the Atlanta airport lounge. I am en route to Athens for the next three months, and I'm happy that my anxiety has finally converted itself into pure excitement.
While in Miami on official TGS business, I joined my friend Nick on a road trip to visit his grandmother in Boca Raton. We felt like doing something adventurous on our weekend off, and when a spontaneous trip to Cuba didn’t pan out (due to their visa restrictions, not ours), I decided to tag along for his mini-family reunion. The point of the trip wasn’t to craft a story or film anything; we were there to visit a lovely woman and enjoy some peace and quiet pre-Costa Rica. However, when we embarked on an exploration of the neighborhood in a retro golf cart, the inspiration flowed.
Sometimes when I'm home, I turn the camera on my family. They like to cheese it up in photos, but when their cheek muscles relax a bit and they get into their element, you can see the real smiles emerge.
One of my favorite weekends involved a road trip to the Coromandel to celebrate Nick’s birthday at the newly-purchased home of Andrew McLean. We had a complete blast making music with melodeons and djembes, rebuilding bonfires on the beach, and eating crazy amounts of barbecued meats and veggies. I have never witnessed such a unified affinity for nature by a country. Through the channel of our local contact, it felt like we got a taste of this focus on the outdoors and the joys of sharing it with friends. I endeavor to adopt a little of this and take it with me wherever I go next.
I've been living in Auckland, New Zealand for the past two months, continuing my work with THINK Global School. New developments at work have incorporated leisure time for employees to travel within the school term. I haven't had the opportunity to visit since February 2010, but thanks to the proximity, cost, and flexibility with work, that return to Nakavika is finally possible.
Just like my seniors, I feel it essential to start looking back at my time here, to gather my thoughts and understand the shift in my world view. I think I’ve grown exponentially here, not just through learning how to teach and communicate but learning how to think from the students and staff that make this a priority.
The most recent Word session was brought to us by the word "wax," an option possibly inspired by the candle that sat close to the pieces of paper. This was what I came up with in that available hour.
Pushing my hand toward a different direction, Alex led me square off the mountain face, straight down the slope. One footstep would push wheelbarrows full of little volcanic rocks down, obscuring the switchbacks like a toothpick through latte foam. In seconds, I was meters lower without much effort at all. I was skiing! No... I was screeing!
With these white lies, it became clear to me that climbing Kilimanjaro is completely mental. My leg muscles didn’t burn the way I thought they would. Other than my head and belly, my body felt strong and fine. But an able body was not the most important need for continuing up that huge, dark, daunting incline. I turned off my mind to simply put one foot in front of the other and to encourage others to do the same.
The ascent presented quite a few debilitating challenges–sun exposure, wind exposure, high altitude, blisters, dehydration–but their effects were hardly visible in these teens. I witnessed incredible grit in those fifteen [former] students, none of whom were weathered mountain climbers nor even teenagers who'd had adequate sleep for the two months prior. They looked out for each other and pushed through the monotony to savor the specialness of the opportunity.