Monday, November 24, 2008

Chasing Frisbees in the Sky

Rest in Peace, Unti

She was a great dog -- happiest when chasing frisbees, swimming, or just lying around with us. We will miss her terribly.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wandering Educators Brings Me Home

Do you ever have the experience when you are traveling of turning a corner in a city you’ve never been in before and having the feeling you’ve been there before? There’s something almost comforting in the layout of the buildings or the smell of a nearby bakeshop that seems somehow almost like home. Recently, in my various wandering around the travel-related corners of the web, I came across the name of a website that intrigued me. With the same curiosity that gets me peering down alleyways in strange cities, I clicked on the link and it brought me here: Wandering Educators.

From the moment the page booted up, I knew there was something strangely familiar about the place. This website is a compendium of compelling stories, important travel tips, job postings, sabbatical homes, and travel deals. The layout is simple and straightforward, the blog post titles unpretentious, and the whole vibe positive and encouraging. It simultaneously welcomes me home and sends me out the door for new experiences.

Founded in 2007, the website is the brainchild of husband and wife team, Jessie Voigts and Ed Forteau. In an email interview, Voigts told me that they wanted to create a project that they could work on together. With Voigts’ background in education and travel, Wandering Educators was a natural choice. However, they had no idea how quickly the idea would catch on. Since the founding, they have grown tremendously and now see over a thousand visitors a day. After tapping Joel Carillet to be chief editor, they have added over forty editors in charge of writing and recruiting new content in areas as diverse as Italy and teaching in South Korea. Although these are volunteer positions now, as the site grows, Voigts anticipates a revenue sharing agreement with her editors. Although she claims to want to slow down, Ms. Voigts seems indefatigable, posting post after post on other travel sites and blogs, travel books, and tips for traveling with children.

Of the many stories posted by Wandering Educators, there are stories on heritage trips, hidden gems of Ireland, reviews of travel books and websites, and breaking travel news. I also appreciate the “artist of the month” and “photographer of the month” features, as they introduce me to visions of worlds I might not otherwise see.

For me, one of the most tempting places on Wandering Educators is the listing of sabbatical homes in places like New Zealand, Egypt, Turkey & Germany. Actually living in a country is such a completely different experience than just traveling through it. My wife and I experienced that while living and working in Austria and have been longing to move back ever since we left. So, if anyone knows of a job in the Salzburg area, please let me know.

In the meantime, I like what I see at Wandering Educators and may just make myself at home here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote Like a Transcendentalist

Vote Like a Transcendentalist

Like many Americans, I have been thinking a lot about this election and my place in the historic nature of it. As a modern day Transcendentalist, I turned to the likes of Thoreau and Emerson for their thoughts. Thoreau, who famously marched to the beat of his own drummer, quoted the motto, “the government is best which governs least” in his essay, “On Civil Disobediance,” calling government “a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves.” This is the man who famously spent the night in jail for failure to pay a local tax because he did not want to support the American government’s war with Mexico.

However, contrary to popular belief, Thoreau did not call for the abolishment of government:

But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.

In following this call, I am making known what kind of government will command my respect: one that will weigh many options before deciding what might be best for the majority of the world’s citizens, not just Americans; one that recognizes that we are merely temporary inhabitants of this earth and not owners of it; and one that will seek to erase the divides and injustices that separate us from each other and not seek to institutionalize them. That, for me, is best represented by the candidacy of Barack Obama, and I urge all of you to get out and vote.