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1992 Phillips Travelers

The first time I left my home country, my familiar life, I embarked on a three month journey; alone. I flew a whole day into the utter unknown. I was terrified, excited, fully packed yet totally unprepared, ready to turn back yet determined to go forward… I remember feeling camaraderie with travel companions after only a few hours Aside from accents or complexion, we all still laughed at the same things. I realized that America is not ALWAYS right, yet I felt so much pride for the love all people share for my country. Simultaneously, I discovered a sincere appreciation for the cultures from which my friends came, and a more grateful passion for what I have in North Carolina… I began to really appreciate my UNC education. I knew this Etruscan archaeology!… I enjoyed telling other travelers about them, and linking past, present, and the many cultures in between to the world of Italy.

theater of dionysius; athens, greeceThank you, Frances Phillips. You have given me the world. I, in turn, give a little of what I have gained to all others I meet.

"To meet the people," I have come to realize is the best reason for anyone to travel abroad…

… you can never go back; once you learn and experience, you can never be who you were before: I learned so much… Ms. Phillips taught me more than she will ever know.

I have been truly lucky to be able to travel so much and meet so many new and interesting people. I am still in touch with people that I met in Australia, many of whom live in the UK…

Although most of what I have described is what I’ve seen, it’s what I have learned about each culture and its people that is the most important and enriching. This journey also taught me about myself, in terms of how I respond to new challenges and uncommon situations, and I think that anything that can give me such clearly positive feelings is a truly worthwhile experience.

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness." Mark Twain

Mark Twain’s words could not be more true. Traveling it seems is the best cure for these diseases for it is most often people who have done little or no traveling who do not venture outside the norm, outside their country or even outside the small place they have established as home.

I have to admit, at first I was very frightened. So frightened and unsettled that I couldn’t sleep for several nights in a row. What frightened me was not knowing what was going to happen next… I had attempted to plan out my entire trip before, but before I didn’t know what it would feel like to be there and how physically draining it is to travel and to be in bigger cities all the time… I learned that I can really do anything in Germany, but that it takes a lot of perseverance.

the pelopponese, greece

Along these lines is another elemental concept. That is to find peace where you are. Part of my trouble in the beginning was to let go, of my plans and fears…

Please be careful, but most of all believe in yourself, and know that whatever happens to you that you can cope with anything. You can do anything, once you figure out how, and that you don’t need to plan to have a good time. Sometimes, the best things just happen.

Where ever you decide to go, I truly hope that you learn a lot about yourself and the culture of that country. I hope your stereotypes and misconceptions are broken and that your growth during this time will be only the beginning…

Travel, moving the body through time and space, continues to challenge and focus our own time. In this world of instant telecommunications and CNN, the world may appear to shrink and become more accessible. I would argue that this is not the case. Instead we – as responsible humans – must physically move and experience different cultures and lands. We must face the fact that travel tests as well as provokes ethnocentrism… It is this complex interplay of familiar and strange, kin and alien, that draws me toward a deep appreciation for the Phillips Travel Scholarship. My thoughts, my actions and my convictions have all been questioned and modified by my European travel…

Travel is exciting. And frightening. A time for near sensory overload. Journeys are what we make them when we land on this beach of new experiences.

The biggest impression made upon me during my research and interviewing for the Frances Phillips Scholarship was how important flexibility is in traveling…

I wanted to maintain the original spirit of my travel plans as much as possible so I decided to concentrate on the Russian population living in or passing through France. The majority of my research and interviews took place in Paris, but my plans included a tour of France in an attempt to study where Russian immigrants settled and why they chose to remain or leave as the case may have been.

As I compile this report, I am struck by the ineffability of my trip, that found me climbing Mt. Sinai and the Alps, visiting synagogues and sanctuaries, tromping the graveyards and extermination camps of Europe and the victory fields and groves of Israel…

Travel for travel’s sake, to see the world and to see one’s self in it. To learn the truths and perceptions of one’s identity in the context of the nearly foreign and alien worlds lying beyond our Atlantic Ocean. To have an amazing amount of fun. To learn, play, grow and take it all in. After ten weeks of travel, these are the abstract lessons I have learned.

During my two months in Europe, I experienced many different emotions. At times, I was filled with wonder, at others, loneliness. There were moments when I felt incredibly fortunate and also moments when I felt that things could not get much worse. Words cannot do my trip justice. Just like my photos, they lose something in translation.

Traveling this summer gave me the opportunity to make more real the history and cultures I had only studied. Travel in Europe this summer was in some ways a good conclusion of my education at UNC. However, this summer was also the beginning of an education for me… Hopefully, I will keep the same goal of learning in my future travels.

Thanks to the Frances L. Phillips Travel Scholarship, I was able to witness firsthand what will be looked back upon as one of the greatest transitional periods in Russian history. Moreover, I was able to see how the Russian people coped with and dealt with the hardships of transition and reform. This gave me deeper insight into Russian society, and renewed in me admiration for the courage and strength of the Russian people.

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