Monday, September 8, 2008


There are a lot of things to love about traveling. For me it's the people I meet. Among the most memorable was the high school teacher from Germany whom I met on a train from Hampton Court to London. I don't recall who opened the conversation...I probably said something about our shared vocation. He moved from his seat across the aisle and joined my husband and me, apparently grateful for the chance for some adult conversation after a day of escorting teens through Henry VIII's digs. After a round of those brief breezy introductions one makes on planes and trains, he leaned forward, elbows on his knees, blue eyes bright with curiosity, and asked us a question I'll never forget. "What should I know about where you come from?" My travel fatigued brain jolted awake. "Do you mean my country? My state? My city? My neighborhood?" I asked. "Pick any one of those," he said. "What should I know?"

This was almost 10 years ago and I continue to use that fellow's question. It led to an eye-opening conversation with a woman from Amsterdam about the Dutch resistance during WWII and to a poignant conversation with a woman from Israel about living in a violent society. The real gift within that question, though, is that I have learned that in reality I know very little about where people come from...because after all, where we come from is colored by who we are.

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