The last few days I have spent doing some work on my blog; updating it and merging some posts from two different sites together. Doing this started as an exercise in tenacity (navigating the world of web design is not so easy!), and ended as an exercise in gratitude. I have been fortunate to travel many places. When I got married in 2003, Ray and I never sat down and talked about travel as part of our life plans. I mean, I’m sure we both wanted to see things and go places, but we were young married college students, so obviously, poor. Seeing past the enormous cost of tuition was pretty much impossible. And then I think we got lucky. A trip for my parents anniversary. A good tax return. A gift from my grandparents. A $500 flight deal to Holland right when I was finishing PDP. And then it just snowballed from there. I couldn’t tell you the day or moment in my life when being a traveler became part of my identity. It just did. The wanderlust took root, and traveling – whether with my husband, family, friends or students – became part of my core values. Some call it impossible. But as Walt Disney once said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
A short while back I took my student council students to Disneyland. Disney runs an excellent leadership program there. I took a risk on it (though Disney, so not a huge risk), and hoped that in addition to the program, the team building opportunity would also benefit the whole group. On the first day of the program our workshop (“Creating a Leadership Legacy”) was in Disneyland Park. One of the exercises that they asked the group to do was to draw a picture of their future – their “dream.” As I sat down drawing mine I realized I was already living it; my dream was to be able to inspire students, and to travel the world with them; to build relationships, and open minds. The program leader encouraged us to turn our “impossible” dreams into “I am possible.” And here I was – doing that exact thing. I have been so blessed to be able to travel with my students. NYC, London, Disneyland, Florida, Western Europe – it’s been an amazing 4 years. And in 6 weeks, one more trip (then again – it’s always “just one more” – the truth is, I hope it will be many many more).
The second day of our workshop was “Disney’s approach to Leadership and Teamwork” – another home run workshop. I was blown away by how close our group had become in the first 36 hours of our trip. Their shared experiences, combined with Disney challenging them to dream big and think big, was the perfect combination. What I learned about building and nurturing team work from developing a shared vision was invaluable for me as a teacher, and for them as students.
After the workshop, in the students “free time” I expected them to scatter into small groups. But they didn’t. I would round the bend and there they would be – all 21 of them together. Every time I saw it my heart would grow a little more.
On the last day we had a team building scavenger hunt. While pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone, students built new relationships, to last a life time. As for me, this was a turning point. For student council, and for me as a teacher. The relationships that I formed with my students the 4 days we were gone are the type that I cannot even begin to describe. The kind that transform a person. That’s the thing about travel. It isn’t always about where you go, but who you go with. Even just thinking back to the experience – my heart is full.
So here I am, just an ordinary girl, living an impossible dream.