I’ve long since been a believer that travel is the great equalizer. When you travel, you are forced out of the daily tedium — the recognized, the familiar, the predictable — and willingly open yourself up to new experiences. Who serves the best regional cuisine? What does “VAT” stand for? Where is the nearest bathroom? When does the next train leave? How do I exchange this currency? These are all mundane tasks we take for granted in our day-to-day lives, but we lean into the unknown with reckless abandon when traveling.
Imagine the anxiety you’d feel on a random Tuesday if you lost your way trying to get from point A to point B. And yet, we’ve all probably gotten happily lost once or twice wandering the backroads and alleyways of a foreign city. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey, right?
But why is that? Why do we enjoy the momentary discomfort we feel when trying to comprehend driving a car on the other side the road? Why do we laugh despite our embarrassment when we botch the translation of a simple question? Why do we try that insanely spicy local delicacy, even though we know we’ll be taking three Zantac later? It’s because we understand what we’re doing isn’t easy. It’s taking a conscious effort for us to try something new. We’re learning. We’re growing. We’re making memories. And although there may be some bumps along the way, we’re doing it!
And then we come home. And we fall back into the same old routines. We talk to the same people, eat the same food, listen to the same music, take the same drive back and forth to work. Where has our inquisitive side gone? The one that was open to anything different than what we see every day. If we open our eyes, we will realize there is so much diversity to wonder at right here at home.
In this issue of Lagniappe, we dive into several topics that illuminate how our differences serve to enrich both our League and our community. We’ll see how our members celebrate various holiday traditions while incorporating elements from across the globe. We’ll discover that no matter if they have fur, feathers, webbed toes or wings, we all love our family pets with the same intensity. We’ll learn more about the recipients of our generous Diaper Bank and how the newly established ABOLISH Movement is helping bring a voice to voiceless victims living in the shadows. We’ll see how the legacy of the Bloomin’ Deals is reaching the next generation in a purposeful way. And we’ll contemplate how we can help those of us who struggle to find the joy in the upcoming holiday season.
We’ve made it a tradition in my family to take our nieces and nephews on their first trip to New York City once they’ve turned 13. We open the door for them to witness people from different cultures and ethnicities all living together in one place. We help them to understand there’s a wider world out there beyond their own neighborhood. We encourage them to live history by standing in locations where famous events have occurred. It’s our hope that in some small way, this experience makes an indelible impression on them by broadening their world view, inspiring a lifelong thirst for adventure and recognizing the destination is enriched by the path of their journey. But most of all, I want them to come back home asking all the right questions. Who in my class is from another country? What new food will I try today? Where is India on a world map? When can we go on a trip like that again? How can I make today different than yesterday?
Kristin W. Durand