Cultural differences and seeing things from another perspective is something that is very important, be in a personal or business relationship. It allows for a flow of communication so that the two parties can better understand each other. It is about this, I am writing my 60th edition of Weathering the Storm, which if I had timed in right, would have been written for the week of my 60th, birthday, but alas, it wasn’t, but it is being written on the occasion of something very special, Rosa’s first blog that will be posted to her website and her business Facebook page, which I hope you will all read. I won’t tell you about it, you will just have to read it and it is a good read. It can be translated, with the Google translator, but I also cleaned up the English version, which if asked, I can share, as well. She told me she wrote it on the flight home from San Francisco when we parted ways back in February. You will get the gist, of course.
Her blog and my musings on cultural differences is also very timely, as you all know that I am taking a certification course on teaching English as a foreign language with the intent to teach overseas. As I mentioned, before, don’t freak out, my travel business is and will still be there for you and when my departure for that country with a boot, comes, I will let all know, but know for sure, that the Wandering Puffin is not going away when it comes to planning your travel adventures. This is just in addition to my passion for planning travel and, of course being closer to Rosa.
My assignment besides, reading the chapter on cultural sensitivity, was to write a paper on cultural differences, both on the surface and the deep level differences of a country in which I intended to teach English, and for me , at this point in my life, there’s one, and how important it is to understand these cultural differences, not only traveling to a new place, something I have always shared with my clientele, but also for business reasons and for teaching kids or adults as everyone comes from a different point of view. This is even true when two people even from the same country have different upbringings and different attitudes towards something. It is important to not only find the common ground, but to truly understand each other’s point of view. It does not mean you have to agree on everything, but to conduct business, to understand a client’s needs. Heck, my relationship with Rosa, we need to understand the differences and appreciate them and I believe we do.
I am now in week 3 of my return to school and the balancing act continues and certainly am challenging myself. Of course, the end goal is the same and that is to be across the pond with a special someone. This week included working four 10-hour days in a row as my trade off for having three solid days to focus on the other aspects of my personal and professional life, my clients, school and of course, Rosa. This year has been amazing, and it has only reached the end of the first quarter and so much has gone on. By the way, happy spring to all you out there and again, my heart goes out to those in Ukraine and what is happening there. Maybe, they will get a break, but it does not look that way, for the near future.
I was thinking and in discussion with colleagues that 2022 would be a good year as we hopefully move forward on the Covid front, but for me, and I can’t explain it, has been amazing. I knew it would be good if the pandemic slowed down and even with the crisis in Ukraine, it has been tremendously satisfying seeing how people want to venture out again. My colleagues thought that maybe 2023 or into 2024, things would really look much brighter, but I have been blessed with many travels to be arranged, let alone my own. I do believe we are overall in a better place and have a better understanding of Covid and have the means to handle it, even as new variants rear their ugly heads. The answer, from my point of view is the vaccine and people can disagree, but I did it, selfishly enough, or maybe not, and the booster and will do it again so I can travel and remain as safe as possible.
Burning the candle at both ends is what this past week and the next several months will be. I have many irons in the fire and I am not complaining, just stating the facts, and continuing to enjoy life. While I have been working full-time at the store, I also am working on many different travel adventures for my valued clients, as we work our ways out of the pandemic, and of course, planning my future, wherever it will take me (oops, the kitty is out of the burlap), but you all know where I want to be. I added another activity to my already very busy schedule, which I may have mentioned last week in passing. I went back to school. No not teaching and not back in a college classroom but taking an intensive 11-week Teaching English as a Foreign Language program, so I can receive certification to teach overseas. This program known as TEFL, was offered pre-Covid in a shorter in person offering, but is now online, the way things are done more and more. In the end, it is another avenue for me as I approach my future now at 60.
As most of you know, I have been an educator in some way or another, for the past 35 years, first as a tutor, teaching English to Brazilian children in the New York City public schools, then as a paraprofessional, then an elementary school teacher in the same system. After leaving New York City, I continued teaching back in Minnesota in several school systems in both regular and special education, and in the past 16 years, working in a before and after school and summer childcare program. As well as this, as a professional travel advisor and planner, I have, for almost 25 years, not only planned travel for clients and but also educated them on the nuances of different types of travel. I have been there for colleagues who needed advice, so being an educator has been part of who I am. Once an educator, always an educator.
I was trying to think of something to write for this week and I have to say that starting with the good news, it looks like we are moving forward to the battle against Covid as most places are changing their rules for the better for all as mandates seem to be falling by the wayside. Of course, we know that it can always rear its ugly head and we still need to be aware. I am excited for this, of course as business as picked up and that pent up desire to travel has driven more traffic my way. It is truly a blessing that I have weathered the storm and coming out of this better than before on many different fronts.
However, when we speak about fronts, I must keep my mind on what is happening in Ukraine and as I wrote last week, my heart goes out to all those people who must be subjected to the attacks by a tyrant, and I hope this crisis does not linger as it will impact, and already has, more than the people of Ukraine, but I remain optimistic that this situation gets resolved sooner rather than later and it is nice to see, that there is a fair amount of solidarity in the world to get Russia, or should I say Putin, to stop what is absolutely maddening and destructive. It is not the people as I am sure they do not want this and as they hear about more and more of their people dying, not just the Ukrainians, maybe this will end. We can only hope and remain vigilant, but also remain optimistic. I plan to be in Europe this summer, if not sooner and I want all my clients going there, as well, to be safe and comfortable traveling and for now, that seems to be the case.