After spending 10 days traveling through France and Italy with 95 people, about 50 of them teenagers, arriving at home, and waking to a quiet house is a shock to the system.
Our days were packed with travel, sightseeing, eating gelato, experiencing new environments, hearing other languages, and trying not to get lost.... it was wonderful
Our evenings were filled with a casual slow dinners, sips of wine, great conversation, and late hours.
I was in charge of 5 students. While I am around teenagers all of the time teaching, it is a whole new thing to travel in a different country with them. A whole new wonderful thing. Leaving the schools walls behind us, they were allowed to see me, more as I am, and we were able to sit and talk about everything. It was such a blessing to get to know my students, share with them, and watch them as they experienced a new culture. As I traveled with them, shared with them, learned from them, and talked with them, it seemed to me that this experience was what education should really look like. Instead of the four classrooms walls, rows of desk, and the teacher in the front of the room, separated from the students and their experiences.
This was where learning was taking place, learning that they would remember always. Here they were learning about life, learning about people. Understanding that often others seem rude not because they are, but because we don't take the time to stop and understand where they are coming from. We so often judge others based on our experiences, but find that they are not so bad if we take a moment to remove ourselves and attempt to understand where they are coming from.
Right before our eyes we saw the amazing things that man can do when he/she has a vision, has a drive, a dream. Looking at the amazing buildings it seems that there are no limits when one wants to express themselves, or wants to connect and worship their god.
It is through leaving our comfort zone that makes us finally open our eyes and see all that is around us, all that we miss most days. The beauty of a language barrier makes us realize that we are not all so different, as one can communicate with another, while sharing only a few words, followed by hand gestures.
By traveling and being surrounded by people that you don't know, you find pure freedom in being who you are, and not caring what anyone thinks. It is through this freedom that you begin to discover who you really are. Who you are when you are ALONE.
When traveling with a large group, you are presented with options. You can focus on the others, focus on the rush, focus on your frustrations and miss everything around you. Or you can understand that you may never be here again, so you must appreciate now. You can forget those around you, you can let go of time, and you can enjoy each moment for what it, not thinking about the moment before or the one that it is about to come.
After traveling for 10 days I arrived home, home to my quiet house. As I woke up and my husband headed to work, it almost seemed surreal. There was silence, I was not counting heads, there was no schedule for the day. It was something that I did not expect. For me it's always hard to go from these drastic switches. It is similar feeling to when I go from the last day of school, to the first day of summer. Both are wonderful, but are so different, it is hard for the mind to adjust to the drastic change that takes place over night.