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Cultural Enrichment

Wow. I just heard this story and even though it was meant to be funny, I was dismayed and even a bit angry. I also found myself thinking how jealous I would have been if they'd been my classmates.

I came from a very un-cosmopolitan small town in the center of the country. Things weren't awful there, but they could be counted on to be relentlessly the same. We never took a vacation until I was ten years old. Not once. Not an overnight anywhere. When we finally did go, it was a whopper of a car trip all the way down the east coast and to Sanibel Island. I was thrilled. I even got a kick out of seeing other states' license plates.

I saw mountains in Pennsylvania, stayed on an old estate in Maryland, and decided that Georgia had lots of things that began with 'P': peaches, pecans, people on porches, and poverty. I collected seashells and swam in salt water. We tasted freshly squeezed orange juice in Punta Gorda. We did go to Disney World, and I thought Pirates of the Caribbean was neat. We watched President Nixon resign on TV. It rained briefly every afternoon on Sanibel, then cleared up so we could go back to the beach. I had so many things to write about when I came back to school!

Later I studied French and German and saw them as a ticket out of my confined world. I was nineteen when I went to France for a year -- my first time out of the U.S. (except for Windsor, Ontario -- that didn't count, although they did have sugar packets that said "sucre"). I remember that when the plane landed in Luxembourg, I looked out the window to see how different this Europe place looked than home. I was a bit disappointed to see an earth mover emblazoned with "Ford" as my first sight. But it did get more interesting after that, and I've been a joyful traveler ever since. And yes, I have an Aer Lingus moist towelette with packaging printed in Irish. I'm like that. There's so much to see. I can't understand why anyone would need things to be the same when they could be different.

There are good experiences and bad experiences, and you'll have those anywhere, but there are no bad places.

So the next time you're going to the Netherlands, leave the kids with a babysitter and take me! Maybe they'll be more intrigued if they sense it's something they're missing rather than something to take for granted.



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