One of the great personal returns of international volunteering is the friends one makes. Late last week I returned from Ukraine where I was an observer to the local elections. It was an interesting and satisfying mission. A lot of new friends were made (see photo of our team in Poltava) and many old acquaintances […]
Photo © Michael Rosenkrantz I’m experiencing something that I never have before; living in a village, not necessarily how most people live, because I’m living in the hostel of a hospital with A/C in my bedroom, although with cement floors in my bedroom, but nevertheless I’m living in a village. Karjanha lies in the Terai […]
Bethe Dufresne is a journalist who lives in Connecticut. She traveled to Nairobi, Kenya in 2009 to cover the debut of the first free school for girls in the notorious Kibera slum; the largest slum in East Africa. The many visits that Bethe made to Kibera, and the current popularity of “poverty tourism”, prompted her […]
It was past midnight and I couldn’t sleep. A cold wind rapped at the leaky windows, and what little heat there had been in the small fourth-floor apartment of my school had long since departed. The building was like a fortress, almost 100 years old, now empty and locked for the night. In a few hours a torrent of 650 adolescents would be roaring through the halls below. I was feeling restless and edgy. It had been my worst day. Going through my mind was what to do about the noisy and disruptive behavior in one of my classes. I was still having trouble keeping this class quiet during lessons, and my patience was weakening. I hadn’t yet figured out what I was doing wrong. I was thinking of going to the director, but what would I tell him? After six weeks I was having doubts about teaching for two years in this foreign land 3,000 miles from home. From under my covers I stared into the darkness and wondered what I had gotten myself into.
Peace Corps Online
When President Kennedy announced the formation of the Peace Corps I was newly married and beginning what turned out to be a very erratic career. I was greatly interested in the Peace Corps but the timing just wasn’t right. I have always had a hankering for things international and enjoy meeting new people and exploring different cultures. As a young veteran in the late fifties, an army buddy and I drove to Mexico City from Los Angeles to attend college on the G.I. bill. My goal was to get a degree in international relations. My goal wasn’t reached and I returned home. I was concerned about the $60 a month car payment I had left my parents to handle. My buddy stayed on and ended up becoming a professor at a California college. Fortunately my curiosity for the world was not left behind in Mexico City.
Beggars always make me feel uneasy. Especially young beggars. My mind is filled with conflicting thoughts when they approach me. Are they really needy or are they scamming? Should I give them something or shouldn’t I? Passing them by without giving is worse – I feel guilty.
Bethe and Marcel Dufresne are journalists who live in Connecticut. In the summer of 2009 they traveled to Kenya with the organization American Friends of Kenya. Bethe and Marcel wrote a series of articles about their trip for the Hartford Courant. The articles describe their satisfying and fulfilling experience. Below is a link to the […]
I remember when President John F. Kennedy announced the formation of the Peace Corps in 1961. I thought it was a wonderful idea that arrived too late for me. I was married and had a young family and responsibilities at home. Thirty years later on October 24, 1991 I found out I was wrong. I […]
A few years ago, in San Francisco, I attended a book-signing and lecture by a well-known travel writer. After the lecture a member of the audience asked the writer how he felt about traveling in a country where he did not speak the language. The writer replied that it sometimes leads to experiences because it forces one to be inventive to communicate. He said that in such circumstances people often use exaggerated gestures and facial expressions. He believed that the humor in such expansive expressions can break down barriers and lead to a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
The anticipation of landing at a strange foreign airport brings a bundle of conflicting thoughts to the mind of the traveler. At least it does to this traveler. When I am a passenger in an airplane on a final approach to a foreign airport I experience a feeling of both the excitement and uneasiness of looking forward to the unknown.