I was recently invited to reflect on my career for a podcast called Anthology. It provided the opportunity to revisit my life thus far: jobs I have held, places I have lived, people I have worked with and projects I have been passionate about. After my initial enthusiastic response to the request, I got nervous. My career trajectory has not exactly been linear, and I feared coming off as a dilettante. As the interviewer probed deeper into my career, I began to uncover some guiding principles and a visible if winding pathway.
Here are some commonalities in my work life: I have always worked with adolescents. I have studied and taught language. My fascination with other cultures, how people live and what we can learn from each other, has propelled my work. Learning by doing, taking risks, jumping into the unknown and not being afraid to change course shows up as a core value. I still do all of these things, and I am as engaged as ever in the business of educating young people to be responsible global citizens.
When I finally got up the courage to listen to the podcast, it was quite a singularly strange and surprisingly enjoyable experience. I felt as if I was listening to an old friend, someone I had known a very long time, tell some familiar stories. And yet I was hearing them as if for the first time, because instead of hearing them through the reaction of the listener, I was the listener. I felt I was being given the gift of seeing more clearly than I ever had before: the choices I made, the circumstances that affected me, the passions that compelled me. As I listened, I appreciated more than ever the transformative power of travel. I recalled a piece I read this morning on a blog I follow called The Daily Om that sums up this essential part of my existence:
Traveling presents a wonderful opportunity to practice being open-minded and grounded. The voyages you make help cultivate a worldwide community in which we as humans can acknowledge and appreciate our differences as much as we recognize and appreciate our similarities. Though you will eventually return home, the positive impression you leave behind will remain as a testament to the respect and amicability that marked your intercultural interactions.
I leave you humbled by the experience of being interviewed, delighted to have had this chance to reflect, and ever more committed to the work of advancing the field of global experiential education.