Archive for November 20th, 2019



November 20, 2019

Learning from travel

My Dad, 1942

My father grew up in a small village called Akrata on the Peloponnese in Greece. When he was 10 years old he was sent on a boat to America with all of his worldly possessions to live with his uncle. His father had died and his step mother needed help to raise the three children so they sent “the worse one.” My father’s journey was only beginning – he went on to become a successful student, athlete, and leader in school and community.

He enlisted in the Army and fought for three years in WWII through Africa, Sicily, the beach at Normandy, through France and Germany where he was wounded and returned to the states. He was greeted by my mother (and his entire Greek community) who he had married a week before he left. Through all of the hardships my father never lost site of the opportunities afforded him because of traveling to the US. He gave to his community over and over and worked hard all his life.

My parents in 1944 not long after Dad returned from the war.

While growing up my family didn’t have money to use for travel purposes. My parents instilled in us the value of hard work and giving to our communities – their examples of that were provided daily. My sister and I worked from age 10 in our family summer businesses. We saved enough money to go to college and when the opportunity to travel to Greece and Egypt (3 weeks, $600 dollars included everything) came up, we couldn’t say no. Sitting in the hotel in 1973 in Athens a woman was introduced to us – turned out it was my father’s sister, Yiota. She was a new baby when my Dad left Greece in 1928. We traveled with her to Akrata and returned with the key to the homestead.

The Greek Orthodox church in Akrata

Returning home my parents decided not to wait until they retired to travel to Greece but went the next summer. My Dad had not seen or had any contact with his sister and his brother Nick since he had left about 40 years earlier. (Brother Nick passed away from TB when he was 21). It was an incredible homecoming for my parents.

Since my first visit I’ve returned a handful of times, one of the most memorable was going for Greek Easter in 1994 with my parents. That trip helped me realize the importance of family and of passing forward the love of family.

I returned last week from a trip to my family’s village with both of my sons. Passing forward the stories, the ideas and the understanding of our roots to them is important to me and now them.

At the Parthenon

The above provides the background for this post – it’s about stepping out of your daily routines to learn in a different way. We’re fortunate that we live in a time where we can access knowledge and information from around the world in multiple ways. We don’t have to hop on a plane and travel for 15 hours to get somewhere but we can view videos of far away places, connect through face to face communications with teachers and students on the opposite side of the globe, and collaborate on learning projects – to name a few ways. Yes, it takes time and work but it is all worth it.

My sons with Yiota

Think about these questions – what is different about education today? What might be the benefits to think differently about day to day education? Why connect with educators or help facilitate access to learning for your students with others from a different culture? Only you can consider the benefits for you and/or your students but I encourage you to do so.

I am grateful to stand on the shoulders of giants in the work I do in education and on the shoulders of family members from a tiny village 4,521 miles from my home in Maine. Every trip (in real time or electronic connections) help me to understand why I do what I do and the importance of pushing on my beliefs to continually learn.

The blue door on the pathway to the plakia not far from my father’s home. It is the one constant every time I return.

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