Sunday, June 24, 2012

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

I never really thought about writing a personal blog until I started reading Henry Rollin's travel journal "Smile, You're Traveling!" I saw him perform his spoken word act at Earlham College a couple of years ago where he talked about his travels abroad. I really enjoyed how he told his stories and felt a connection to what he experienced abroad. I began reading his book last July and felt the same connection. I understood exactly what he was going through in his travels and what he was thinking. It was at this point when I realized that I too felt the same way about my life and my experiences.

I have done such amazing things in my life. I have experienced a lot, both good and bad; why not write down my adventures, my experiences, my thoughts?

Three years ago, I moved from the suburbs of Chicago to the greatest city on earth, New Orleans. I tell people all the time, I have traveled to many different countries and interacted with many different cultures. New Orleans is the most accepting, most INCLUSIVE community I have ever been a part of. If you show a willingness to learn and contribute to the culture, New Orleans, and its people, will accept you with open arms.

Within this time, I have become a member of Krewe du Vieux, become a lieutenant for MOMs Balls, and auditioned for the 610 Stompers. I attribute my experience living and working in Japan to how I've gotten this far in the New Orleans culture. I know how to assimilate and integrate into a local community; I have used that here in New Orleans.

I'm sitting here typing this in my living room; the night before I leave for Cadiz, Spain to facilitate a summer abroad program for 18 college students and 3 faculty. Packing for this trip has been difficult. While I traveled to Denmark and Spain last year (three days after Mardi Gras) to visit study abroad programs, I haven't been out of the United States for more than a month in a long time. Come to think of it, the last time I have been out of the country for longer than a month was when I was teaching English in Japan.

Packing for this program has been the most nerve-wracking as well as the fact that all 3 pieces of my luggage are heavy as hell. I hate packing because I'm a classic over-packer and I always feel like I'm forgetting something. I also, for the most part, wait until the last minute to pack but not this time.

With the extra time I had today, I was able to attend the Uptown Swingers second-line parade with my friend. It was hot 'n humid but everyone was dancing to To Be Continued Brass Band. It was a lot smaller than I was expecting though. I thought that there would be several social clubs with several brass bands. Some readers might be shocked that I didn't know this already since I've lived in New Orleans for about 3 years. But I haven't been to a African American-style second line parade until today. No matter how long you have lived here, no matter how well you are connected into the culture of this city, there is always something new to explore and learn.

This mindset is what I take with me to Cadiz. I know there are somethings that the city and New Orleans have in common. Cadiz host one of the largest Carnaval festivals in Europe; similar to Mardi Gras. I went to visit this city last year for a 3-day reconnaissance mission and I already saw the connections. The way people are and act reminded me of New Orleans. That laid-back, easy-going lifestyle. The way people interact with one another; especially with non-locals reminds me of New Orleans.

While I'm nervous as I hope this summer abroad program goes smoothly, I'm really excited to be able to live in this city. I'm really excited to learn from the Cadiz community and the people that live there. I hope they will be open to learning some aspect of New Orleans. I envision a strong and interesting relationship forming between the two cities and I hope I, we on the summer program, can help facilitate that.

See you "across the pond!"

1 comment:

  1. Great start! Can't wait to read more