A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way ~ Mark Twain
As a teacher, I can’t help but love this quote. My job is teaching the American children of our military stationed overseas. The kids are used to moving around the US, but they may not have ever lived in another country. You should see the difference living in another culture, using travel as education, makes on each and everyone one of these children. My students, all the students in the school, become acutely aware of cultural differences between our two countries. Everything from food to language, from how and where to shop to being able to order a meal, becomes a challenge.
The students, along with their families, have learned to listen, to problem solve, and to take in clues to just accomplish routine tasks. For example, I took a class to the bakery where we learned how much education and training it takes to become a baker in Germany. Even today, many of the local people go to the bakery daily to get their bread, and it is a respected profession. In the States, we don’t know our bakers at all. Each student ordered something, sometimes in German, and paid for it in Euros. It was such a fun day and a great educational lesson.
It also always impresses me to talk to those kids whose parents take them on trips around the area. Not only do they come back amazed by things like the Eiffel Tower or a Rhine Castle, but they can tell you about the person, the object, some of the history. It brings it alive for them. It’s real, not just something you’ve seen on a movie or read in a book.
I love that they can tell you all the countries surrounding Germany, and tick off where they’ve been and where they still need to go. I tell them about my trips, which are usually a little further afield than theirs, and invariably I’m asked if I can take them along. The fact that these kids, all ages, have already engendered a love for the world, a love for travel is really heartwarming.
It might be a little daring, perhaps even dangerous, to carry a cat by the tail. It’s daunting, a little scary at the very least. I think many folks feel that way about travel, especially with the horrific incidents that do happen splashed all over the media, but after trying it out I think most of those would agree, it’s well worth it! (Please don’t try carrying a cat by the tail!)
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