2016-07-20 / Editorials

Mike Reese

“I was just thinking”

The travel bug bit me at ten years old, when my grandparents took me to New York City. I wanted to see the things that I’d only seen in my geography book. Travelling made those pictures come alive for me. The Empire State Building, the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge aren’t just pictures in a book when you travel and get to actually touch them.

Travel isn’t just the enjoyment of seeing places and things, though. An equally important aspect is the people you meet. Our family recently went on a trip. We came in contact with people from around the world and all over the U.S. There was Brent, a soldier from Tennessee, travelling alone, waiting for his fifth deployment to another desert hell-hole, and there was a mother-daughter pair from Spartanburg, travelling together who just wanted to reconnect for a few days. They’re planning another cruise next year to celebrate the mother’s fiftieth birthday. And there were three teenagers from Snellville, Georgia who invited Chansley to play UNO with them. They’d overheard her begging me to play UNO, but I was leaning toward a couple of hours of reading and/or gazing at the horizon, even napping maybe, kind of a Grandpa thing. Thank you unknown teenagers from Snellville.

My son and I met Joshuva from India. He guided us on an interesting three and a half hour, behind-the-scenes tour of our cruise ship. We also met Travis and Jordan who took us on their sailboat for a mini-cruise to a “post card” island to explore and snorkel in the aqua water. They both want to come to America to get their college degrees.

But the most memorable person we met was Rosella, from the Philippines. She and her husband, Michael, were both members of the ship’s crew. Rosella cleaned our cabin daily. After each busy day we’d return to a fresh room and a different towel sculpture perched on the bed. Chansley loved Rosella’s towel creations. She even took a towel sculpturing class on the ship. Rosella and Michael have a six-year-old daughter, who remains in the Philippines with her grandmother. They see their daughter in person twice yearly, but daily (at 5:30 a.m.) on Skype. Chansley didn’t completely understand the “whys” of that situation. We tried to explain to her that everyone wasn’t as fortunate as she is, to live in a country full of opportunities, and that Rosella and Michael had to take jobs on the other side of the earth that would pay for opportunities for their daughter that she, otherwise, would never have. I wondered how many of us could make that extreme sacrifice. I doubt many of us could.

Chansley’s still not quite old enough to entirely grasp the meaning of what we tried to explain. But it’s a beginning in her education as to the ways and circumstances of the rest of the world, through travel. And, in this ass-backwards world today, explaining it gets harder every day. I think it was a good start, though.

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