Today I am on my way back to Minnesota and then on to Augustana in Sioux Falls. I couldn’t be more excited to see everyone and share my experiences from the summer.
I spent the past week in Paris and London and it has been a whirlwind of travel and people. I feel so fortunate to have become friends with individuals around the world at the International Summer School and to have been able to visit them in their home countries. One thing I have learned on my trek through (a portion of) Europe is how hospitable and open people are. Kayla and I met Naby in Paris to eat dinner and drink wine along the canal while sitting and talking about everything from societal and political issues to our hopes for the future. Parisians are nothing like the stereotype we hear. They are so kind and willing to help out a stranger, you just have to be willing to ask for help. In London we met Sahel for Shawarma and spent our time sightseeing. We even went bouldering in a renovated castle. Yes, a castle. In Oslo we were unexpectedly welcomed into the home of an acquaintance who kindly allowed me to store my luggage at her apartment. Instead of camping in the rain we got to sleep in real beds.
Karma has been on my side and it is why I feel the need to share my experiences and encourage others to go and wander the world. For someone who plans out everything, this trip has been anything but planned. That is why it was so amazing. In education we talk a lot about the Circle of Courage. As teachers we can help our students excel inside and outside the classroom by providing a sense of Belonging, helping students achieve Mastery, helping students gain Independence, and encouraging students to be Generous. My summer has allowed me to find a place with people where I feel that I Belong, Master the ups and downs of travel (and survive Ryan Air flights), become extremely Independent, and now I hope to become half as Generous as the people who have welcomed me into their lives since June.
Generosity comes in all forms, whether it be monetary or the sharing of thoughts and ideas. Simple things like giving the rest of my change to a woman in Paris or sharing leftover groceries with a man in Oslo are the moments we should look for. Yes, I’m a poor college student, and I’ve often said college is one of the most egocentric things we do, but those small moments of generosity are what make someone’s day. People generously shared their thoughts and ideas with me this summer not only at the University of Oslo, but in Italy, France, and London. Travel can be difficult and frustrating at times, but small acts of kindness like the man asking if we were lost and needed help in Paris or talking to travelers who shared their life stories over dinner are what made my trip so special. I hope to bring this type of generosity back to Augustana and continue sharing it after graduation.
This serves as my last blog post for the summer, but I hope to continue blogging as I travel to Haridwar, India to volunteer at the Sri Ram Ashram Orphanage in January. Thank you for all of your support!