Tag Archives: travel

Why Young People are Starting to Travel the Globe

Every generation has to rethink their world.  Today, young people everywhere have to grapple with new peoples arriving from all over the world…who will not give up their culture.  That’s our new dynamic.

For the last six years, the American Council for Education, has examined the link between internationalization and diversity/multicultural affairs.   Some forward thinking institutions agree with what A.C.E. has been saying: “Synergistic efforts between these areas can assist institutions in education more effectively for global connects and local commitments.”[1]  The point: we are no longer dealing with Black vs White in America.  That day has passed.  Yet, with all these new people around, we can never lose the lessons we have learned in our American race struggle.

The A.C.E’s, At Home in the World Initiative hopes in the end bolster cultural competency in the American graduate as,

“the job market globalizes, and the workforce continues to diversify. In order to become responsible, productive citizens, our students must understand their own cultures and those of their neighbors at home and afar.   For institutions to fulfill their service mission in a globalized society, they will need to advance the analytical frameworks, pedagogical enhancements, diversification strategies, and innovative solutions to societal issues that the work in this intersection affords.

Older generations are wary about us young people liking to travel the globe.  What they miss is that any competitive professional in the mid to late 21st century will have to have not just knowledge about other folks but exposure to their world as a minority among their everyday life.  Young people should be traveling and more than we first might proscribe.

[1] See the American Council of Education’s initiative seeking to bring together the historic missions for diversity/ multicultural education and internationalization on U.S. campuses. See: http://www.acenet.edu/Content/NavigationMenu/ProgramsServices/cii/current/gap/index.htm

25 of the Best Pictures I May or May not Have Taken from Around the World

1

Boating on the Li River: China

2

Concord Grapes from Boyd's Orchard, KY

3

Gulf of Gonaive: Haiti

4

Red River Gorge: KY

5

Haw Par Villa: Singapore

6

Palau Ubin: Singapore

7

Palau Ubin: Singapore

8

Singapore Zoo

9

East Family Dwelling: Shaker Village, KY

10

Trustee's House: Shaker Village, KY

11

Pendleton, Indiana

12

Leaf

13

Shaker Village, KY

14

Wilmore, KY

15

Christmas Village, New Hampshire

16

Angor Wat, Cambodia

17

Erawan Waterfalls, Thailand

18

Democracy Monument: Bangkok, Thailand

19

Saarnath, India

20

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

21

Livno, Bosnia

22

Zagreb, Croatia

23

At the Roots of the Caucusus, Azerbaijan

24

Budapest, Hungary
Budapest, Hungary

25

Great Wall, China

26 (Okay, one more)

Tiger Sanctuary, China

 

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Travel Diaries: A Christmas Pilgrimage to Bethlehem of Palestine

Read Part I:

7.00pm Eastern European Time, December 24th, 2004.

We are two days until one of the greatest Tsunamis in all of recorded history hits, but we are grappling today with evil of another kind.   We are at the heart of Christian origins, where the birth of one babe sparked the greatest world movement ever to be known.  And the air is potent with violence and tension.  What would tonight hold for us?  This is no longer the little town with a placid baby.  These are the borderlands where centuries of hate have piled one upon the other.  Yet, we are gratefully ignorant of all that has happened.  We simply have come to celebrate a savior.

As day fades into night, we decide we have come too far to be shut out on account of five tickets.  Surely somebody has an extra. At least one or two of us will get in.  So we do what any sensible American might: find a monk.  There are plenty walking around.  So, we come up to the gated entrance and ask the hooded man about extra tickets.  He sizes us up and down and says, “you need to get your tickets in advance.”  “We know now.  But we have traveled around the world for this moment.  Surely there is room.”  He pauses, ponders, and then reaches into his cloak.  With a smile, he hands over three tickets. “These are extra.  But you are lucky.  You may not find any more.”  Any more!?  We are virtually in.  But, I don’t know at that moment how serious the monk is.

Hours pass and the rain grows stronger.  The women are taking shelter, trying to stay calm even though there are mostly men out now in the revelry of the evening.  That’s one thing that really surprises me.  In Muslim countries in 2004, the women mostly stay in at night while the husbands socialize throughout the town.   Mark is finding food, and Paul and I head out in search for more tickets.  We walk back to the gate and are set in to terror when we turn and see a commotion.

Our senses flare as we see a motorcade heading our way.  It is classic.  A dark car with tinted windows is coming our way.  Surrounding the vehicle we see at least fifty Muslim men shouting, pounding on the metal, running alongside.  This was it: The last Christmas in manger square.  The mob begins to erupt, the car explodes, our women are caught alone in the mob, and I shake myself back to reality.  We come to find out it is Mahmud Abbas, the soon to be President of Palestine.  Every year the Church of the Nativity saved a seat for Yasser Arafat.  He never came.  This year Arafat died.  The leading candidate comes and takes the seat.  It is a gesture of goodwill.  He gets out of his car and gets escorted in.  Now we simply have to see what this service will entail.

Mass begins at midnight and it is 11.00pm.  We have three tickets and are beginning to decide who gets to go.  But before we make that decision, we get aggressive.  “Let’s go to that gift shop,” somebody says, “ and see if the owner can help.”  Inside we are greeted with a glittering mound of nativity treasures.  The owner speaks English.  “We need two tickets.”  He grimaces,  “That’s not easy.”  “Let me make a phone call.” After a few minutes he comes back and directs us to his brother who is serving cider across the square.  Confirmation.  Another ticket.  We need one more.

The eleven o’clock hour moves by quickly with no success.  So we try our last option.  We head back to the shop owner.  “We just need one more. Do you know anyone who can get us in.”?  He pauses again, looks at us, and reaches in his vest.  He begins to unfold the most impacting moment yet. “Here is mine,” he offers.  “I live here.  I go every year. You can have my ticket.” I retort quickly, “No, no. We don’t want to do that.”  He gets firm. “You will take my ticket.  We are both Christians.”  I am shocked to hear he is a Christian.  I have no idea Christians live here. “Now go,” he says. “Doors are opening.”

We take his ticket given as a miracle on this bleak midwinter night.  We enter through the half sized, “door of humility” where only two years ago at least ten were killed during the second Palestinian Intifada.  After a short tour of the holy sites, we find our way to the Roman Catholic section of the church.  There the Mass begins in full regalia. It is a herald of the New Creation with flavors of the old paternal order wafting through the air and around the CNN cameras.  The night was supposed to be magical.  It was filled with miracles, no doubt.  But our experience became colored by what was happening to us in general.  We had been traveling for four months. And we were beginning to see Christianity and religion for what it truly is.

As we ride back to the old city, during the early hours of Christmas day, I think to myself:  violence and ashes in this world are everywhere. And so are some of the most amazing people.  Christianity as a religion has dirty hands.  In fact, followers of the child who was born in this place can conjure up the kingdom of darkness on earth, as it is in hell just as much as light as it is in heaven.  What is it that makes religion heal, and what is it that makes it destroy? I am becoming undone by these experiences.  And our mentors, if they knew what we were coming to see, may have advised us at that point to come home.  They might have told us not to explore lands further away from home, religious lands where we might get lost amidst the worlds growing economies and ancient faiths.  But, we were young and ready to explore.  And when we heard the growing news about the devastating waters rising in Asia. And when we realized we already had tickets to India next, we wanted to help at whatever level possible.

 

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Travel Diaries: Getting from Greece to Bosnia- The Journey of Destiny Part V

Getting from Greece to Bosnia- The Journey of Destiny Part I
Getting from Greece to Bosnia- The Journey of Destiny Part II:
Getting from Greece to Bosnia- The Journey of Destiny Part III:
Getting from Greece to Bosnia- The Journey of Destiny Part IV:

Getting from Greece to Bosnia- The Journey of Destiny Part V:

6.10pm Central European Time, November 16, 2004.

When we arrive in Sarajevo, after 10 hours in this bus, winter’s twilight falls.  At this point, I have read no history on the war.  When the youth of this ravaged land were hiding from mortar, I was but 15.  When I was struggling with cracking in my adolescent voice and devastated by young American depression– prompted by petty things– these young men were hiding their faces from the fires of racial and religious genocide.  My eyes fall with fresh shock on the bullet-ridden buildings of this majestic capitol.  How has life endured here? How could this be?  The pressures of traveling soon sweep us along to simpler worries.  I often wonder how long I could have stared at the shelled buildings if it hadn’t been for our need to find shelter.

We made our way to the Muslim section of town and get lost in awe of the minarets and the old streets.  We find a hostel and drop our things off.  The frozen winter’s night still has life, and we made our way through the bazaar.   We return the next morning to shop for some keepsakes and make sure to find our way to the station.   It was the 17th, our date of expected arrival.  Livno, Bosnia, our destination, lies somewhere West over the mountains, which dominate the horizon.  We are heading to a resource center for teachers, to live among this people for a handful of weeks.  Our hosts expect us today.  After another eight-hour ride through the snow-covered mountains, we make it!  We miraculously arrive from Greece to Bosnia.  It was stupid.  And it was truly a journey laced with destiny, for I knew not then how the strife of this country would inspire my imagination when I will encounter racism, violence, poverty, and ecological ruin in my country years from now.

We pull into to the small town, and I immediately smell the forest of chimneys smoking in the early winter’s dusk.  Our host sends us immediately to his neighbor’s house to help chop wood, the fuel of choice in this area of the mountains.  The whole place smells to me like the camps of my childhood youth.  I like it somehow. When we get next store, we met our new friend, a young man about our age who is busy chopping wood.  The whole yard is piled high with split logs.  He is an extraverted man, keen to tell us about when the first grenades hit.  He shows us the bullet-ridden fence.  Throughout his story and over our evening of chopping, this young man chants in his thick Slavic accent what appears to be his life’s song pulled straight from 1969,

“War, what is it good for? Absolutely Nothing!”

His voice gets seared in my imagination when I will remember those days of traveling, when the road was long ahead of us and there were a hundred lessons yet to be learned.  But in this evening, the sun seems to hang still as our hands grow ripened on the helves of our axes.  We swing them for hours in a millennium long ritual, preparing for winter in a land, which is trying to heal from a millennium of racism and violence. The ashes of war hang in the air of this town like the ashes kindling in the hearths of each home, in the mountains, on this night, where Christians and their guns changed everything.

Travel Diaries: Getting from Greece to Bosnia- The Journey of Destiny Part IV

Getting from Greece to Bosnia- The Journey of Destiny Part I
Getting from Greece to Bosnia- The Journey of Destiny Part II:
Getting from Greece to Bosnia- The Journey of Destiny Part III:

Getting from Greece to Bosnia- The Journey of Destiny Part IV:

10.50pm Central European Time, November 15, 2004.

So off belched the bus to Serbia, into the heart of the Balkans among the clandestine leaders of the Yugoslavian genocide.  We slept poorly bouncing along.  Morning arrived just as we pulled into what seemed to me soviet central.  We explored the streets knowing from our intuitions that we Americans were not welcome. Our breath came alive on the frozen morning air. The fish market froze the night before with its chests of fish suspended in a block of ice.  After a few short hours of pinched stomachs, we found bread and sip of milk.  Our bus would leave soon for Sarajevo, to travel along the roads of war.  I looked at our map and expected a three to four hour ride.  I had no idea we were heading into the heart of the mountains.

The bus twisted and turned around the switch backed ravines in the land between Bosnia and Serbia. Time passed slowly on the frozen bus until the snow let down.  And it fell like a blanket of thick cream.  Our driver slowed some but pressed by the snowy cliffs.  The trees, in a just an hour were weighed down heavy, bearing eight, ten inches.  We stopped for midday lunch and carried swiftly on.  I knew not when we passed the borders.  They didn’t matter at this point.  All I knew was that we seemed lost in a land of wonder which held within it palpable danger.

Travel Diaries: Getting from Greece to Bosnia- The Journey of Destiny Part II

Getting from Greece to Bosnia- The Journey of Destiny Part I

Getting from Greece to Bosnia- The Journey of Destiny Part II:

6.45pm Central European Time, November 15, 2004. Skopje.

Having been on the streets for three months, we knew better than to get in a stranger’s car.  That’s why I strictly refused to talk with the hyena-man who wanted to give us a “taxi ride.”  The man had just seen us hop off our train an hour early.  He knew we were vulnerable.  He did not know we thought we were wise.  “I am a taxi driver.  I speak English.  Let me help you guys out.”  “No thank you, sir,” I retorted.  “Okay, have it your way,” he replied.  Night was falling on the capitol of this ancient city, whose roots stretch back way beyond its biblical references.

This was a decisive moment for our hopes.  We needed to arrive in Livno, Bosnia on the 17th.  But, Skjope looked like a twilight giant.  Would we find the bus station?  Would we find a net-café to find the bus station?  Perhaps it would take until the 17th to get our money changed and to exchange that for the right ticket to Saraejvo.  As we leaned our packs against the train station bricks, the man drives up to us, in his taxi, and interrupts our meeting of minds. “Come on gentlemen, where are you going?  The bus station?  I can take you there.”

Either it was the stupidest thing we ever did, or it was the universe aligning our destinies with a kind soul.  We had no choice but to trust him. “We are going to Bosnia.  Where’s the bus station”?  Moments later we were off.  The man sped through the city like a bat out of hell and eventually pulled up to an unmarked building.  In the dark, we saw what looked like a small gas station with a few miniature cars parked outside.  Except there were no pumps or street-lights. This was it.  Inside was the most unlikely bus station, or it was the headquarters of our doom. I stepped slowly out of the taxi, pushed down my nerves, and walked through the smoky glass doors with my bags strapped tight and my dignity in tact.

Travel Diaries: The Most Dangerous Thing I’ve Ever Done…Atop Mount Olympus

I am devoting my post today to my Mum, Chris Jagger, who would have up and killed me had she known what danger I was in atop Mt. Olympus.  Love you Mom.  Happy Birthday!

—–

Homer writes about Mt. Olympus in the Iliad. In the first book, the mother of Achilles (try not to think Brad Pit), contends that she will, “go myself to snow-clad Olympus to tell what you [Achilles] say to Zeus whose joy is in the thunder…and then I will travel to Zeus’ palace of the bronze threshold, and will kneel to him and think to win him.”

Well, we did not find the bronze palace, but as we were thousands of feet above the clouds atop one of Europe’s highest peaks, snow we had in plenty.  As we scaled the peaks of this once forbidden range, I had to wonder how many humans have ever scaled these walls since the first person in 1913.  I definitely had no idea of the danger involved.

November 9th, 2004.  With my black outfit, in my new Athens coat, we bussed to Litochoro and walked the long sunny road that seemed to run to the summit of Olympus.  This would be a long preperatory day.  The sun beat down on my black outfit and began to bake me.  Ahead was the summit, shrouded with clouds.  We got to the city and found our resources: maps, food for the next day, and a taxi.

The mountain was split up in thirds.  3,000 feet to the end of the road, 3000 to base camp, and 3,00o to the peak. The taxi took us to the first of these thirds, and we rested there for at time. The mountain trail lay before us ready to be tread. So, we walked it for three hours up steep inclines and uneven footing.  Winding our way up, we chased the sunlight and lost by a hare as the dark mist surrounded our base camp.

Camp A was desolate, having been closed for two or three weeks already for the season.  So in the early hours of the night, the six o’clock darkness came on to us.  It was cold.  We situated our place of rest, crawled in our sleeping bags, and curled together.  We ate dinner and were asleep by 7.30.  The stars came out and went as clouds passed through the marbled night.

It was a cold night, and my toes struggled through it.  But morning came, or rather, I should say, 9.30 did.  After 14 hours we we were out of our bags.  The sun gave its best shot at gracing us, but the clouds powered over our clear morning.  So we packed our essentials and left our big packs behind in garbage bags, laying them on the side of the closed lodged.  We would not be back for six hours.

Climbing Olympus was by far the most dangerous thing I have ever done.  For, in late November, pre-noon gave us not only icy paths and whipping wind, but we were not equipped for such conditions, with just our sneakers and modge podge coverings. Paul and I were wearing socks as gloves.

It was only a few minutes before we hit snow.  And the next three hours would be full of it.  As we climbed to higher places and along the switch backed trails, we eventually came to a height where the clouds were below us, and the expanses of Olympus came into the clear.

We were on our way up to the peaks on our right, and miles to the left stood other lesser peaks.  But lesser, in this scale, only means that there is large grandeur in the area. Up we went as if it would never end. Climbing along ridges where if we slipped to the left, we would get plunged thousands of feet down an icy slope.  And to the right, if we would fall through deceptive ridge snow, we would free fall down another thousand.

We found our way near the three hightest peaks, Skala, Skolia, and Mytikas.  So we went for Skala and Skolio.  The wind froze even the rocks. And we traveled on, until we conquered Skolio and Skala.  Then on to the very top: Mytikas. But the was shut by the winter’s wrath. Seeing that we were ill prepared with no ice picks or crampons for our feet, we decided that the dangers were too great.  We didn’t want those cliffs to be our fate.

We didn’t reach Mytikas.  Maybe someday we’ll go back and try.  But we did get some amazing perspectives and some great views.

Traveling down was a bit easier, because the sun had come out and melted the snow.  But otherwise we continued on atop the emerged rocks.  Three hours up.  Three hours back to base camp.  And then came the longest leg-paining walk to the mountain village.

 

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