… I can summarize travel (To Lagos, Nigeria and London) as an eye opening experience dispelling social myths and broadening horizons beyond ones wildest imagination. It is from travel that "students of life" can challenge the validity of textbook academia and surpass the limits of our cultural barriers…The opportunity to travel abroad has given me a broader base of educational experience. The degree I earned at the University of North Carolina, coupled with the generous legacy of Frances Phillips has given me an opportunity unlike any other. I challenge all to look beyond the limits of the textbook/classroom learning experience. True learning comes from taking part in unique opportunities.
One of the dominant impressions I have of Ecuador and Brazil is the kindness and generosity of so many of the people I met.
The night we left Istanbul, was extremely sad to me. I wanted to stay in the Side Pension in Sultanahmet for the rest of my life. Istanbul was the most beautiful city I had ever visited…
Travel of this sort has the potential to be one of the most rewarding and significant experiences of a lifetime.
… So back to the question, "what did I get out of this experience?" I have memories that will last forever. I made many new friends… I was able to use my time alone to look at my life and what I have done and to think about what I want to do.
I can not fully explain in words what it was like to see Canterbury Cathedral or an original Shakespeare folio for the first time. English, like other subjects, is a study that exists mainly within the mind and there is not much "hands-on" experience… One can read Wordsworth’s poem about Tintern Abbey and gain an understanding of its beauty to a degree, but nothing can be better than physically walking through the ruins and looking through the same windows that inspired Wordsworth to write the piece.
…Continuing along the coast, I arrive at Riomaggiore di Cinque Terre. Mamma Rosa is wonderful! The Hostel does smell funny, but the atmosphere of the place is worth it. The dynamics of youth hostels totally amaze me; you get all kinds of people just lumped together. It makes for some very interesting conversations.
I cannot express what an incredible adventure I have experienced. The freedom of literally having the world at your fingertips is exhilarating. I saw over and over again how much people are alike and how it is not where you live, what you have or what language you speak, but who you are that is important… It is often difficult to understand the problems faced in other nations, but when you have stood on that land and met its people, their problems become important to you as well. I also was awestruck by the many forms that beauty can take. Color, light, nature, people, architecture and culture align in infinite combinations and each place holds its unique quality of beauty.
… I do this in the hopes of sharing the experiences which so many kind people have opened my eyes to, experiences that have helped shape my travel into a lifestyle rather than a vacation, have changed me rather than left a fond imprint and have encouraged me to keep on going. We all have one thing in common: a deep and eternal thank you to Frances Phillips, the woman behind it all, who recognized the intellectual and spiritual benefits of traveling and now enables us to do the same. How I would have loved to have met her myself. She’s become a sort of invisible traveling friend for whom I’m always grateful.
I treasure the opportunity I have had to visit the world’s great museums of art and the great churches of the Western world.. These are the objectives I had as I made my proposal more than a year ago, and while I accomplished these tangible goals, I have accomplished much more in the process… There were so many people who I spent time with, some for a few days, others for a few minutes and I know that each has touched my life in a unique way… Just as I have learned a lot about and from others, I have also learned a lot about myself, about who I am, and what makes me tick. Time alone allowed me to consider the importance of family, and of Home, from a new perspective.
All in all it was a wonderful opportunity -- while I learned so much about Europe, I learned even more about myself. Despite all of the complications and loneliness that comes from traveling alone I would not have done it any other way. I came away from this trip a more confirmed humanist and more confident in my skills and abilities to survive on my own. I'm extremely grateful to Frances L. Phillips for providing me with the opportunity of a lifetime.
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