Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

world citizens

May 12, 2017

We have raised our children to be world citizens. This was important to us and, I believe, one thing we succeeded at. What do I mean by “world citizen”?

To me, a world citizen is a person conscious of the world. Conscious of and knowledgeable of different cultures and beliefs. A person not afraid to investigate, consider other opinions, a person open to learning. A world citizen knows there is one race, the human race, but it manifests itself in a great variety. This is the MOST important lesson to teach your kids: The WORLD is our home, people the world over are inherently the same, want the same things, clean water, land and beauty of the earth, a safe place to live, peace with their neighbors, family, and community. They want to raise their children to be whoever they want to be, and have the opportunities all other children have, to read and write, learn in school, become contributing citizens of the world.

When I was growing up, my dad was a professor of mechanical engineering at a large university, Purdue. Graduate students from different countries came into our home and had dinner with us. I do not remember ever being invited to my major professor’s home for dinner. But my dad was exceptional. We had African students from various countries, those from India, and other places. Sometimes my sister & I were asked to dance for them or talk with them. We also had family music nights. I grew up on Satchmo and Dixieland jazz. My dad played guitar, banjo, flute, and bongo drums. My mom played piano and I was taught that as well.

My husband and I raised our kids on little money. The privileged childhood I enjoyed vanished when my father died at a young age, 3 months before his 51st year. We had 4 children in years of poverty, I would say. But this essay is not about that. All four of our children have traveled internationally overseas, something I never did, and they all did it on a hope & a prayer.

Jasmine, our oldest, went with her sister Leah to China. They joined a program called “the crazy English school”. They had to pay their plane fare but once getting to the school, their plane fare was paid back to them. For 2 weeks, they interacted with Chinese adults learning English, who wanted to sound “American”.

Prior to this, Leah spent a year in Liverpool, England after graduating half a year early from high school. She left before she turned 18. She spent a year doing service for a hostel/type place run as a Baha’i school in Liverpool. We had no money. We came up with the plane fare but England required she show hat she had $1000 and didn’t need to take a job from Britains once she got there. We didn’t have $1000. A co-worker of mine who was Indian said, “OH, I’ll loan you the thousand, once she gets there you give it back to me. Indians do this all the time.” And that’s what we did. She learned many things about English culture, including that they turned on the water heater in the morning for the purpose of a short shower. Then they turned it off. Pharmacies didn’t have the DRUGS we have, shelves and shelves of them, and even aspirin was behind the counter. They sell more herbal stuff. I think at one point I even mailed her some ibuprofen or aspirin.

Our 3rd child, Jamal, oldest son, was a soccer player. He had the opportunity to go to Argentina with a youth exhibition team from our hometown. The whole team had offers to stay with a host family for a year. Our son was the only one who did so. A few of the things he learned was seeing absolute poverty while riding the bus to go to some soccer games. He said we don’t have such poverty here, basically tent cities or shacks for long stretches of miles. Secondly, Argentina was going through a bit of political upheaval and he was downtown during a protest one time. Third, they ate a LOT of meat. His host family had some cattle I believe. Fourth, Argentina is much like a European country. The young adult scene was late night, tight pants, very European.

Our 4th child Levin, 2nd son, went to England with his sister Leah one summer. They roamed London, got to Scotland and saw Lochnaw castle in Stranraer, and got to Amsterdam. Saw LES MISERABLES in LONDON, a requirement from his sister which he was not excited about. How did they have money to go?? Financial Aid! She was living WITH US so had no living expenses, yet the school did not count OUR income because of her age. She got a lot of financial aid. Something in me says, “That’s wrong!” but we had no choice in the matter. She got the money regardless.

Lastly, this same daughter went on pilgrimage to the Baha’i Holy places in Israel, with her father as assistant and baby son 8 mos. old, in 2006. And JUST THIS YEAR, our oldest daughter did the same, taking her oldest son with her, the youngest son not able to go.

Today, all 4 of our kids are adults living in 4 different states, with us in a 5th. This makes for loneliness and missing them a lot. However, we raised them to be free to go and live where they wanted to. And they did. We talk on FaceBook, visit when we can. They are world citizens, all of them. And for this, we are proud.


Dixieland jazz memory

February 19, 2010

We are still in New Orleans, where I presented at the Race Gender and Class conference in honor of Pres. Obama. Though small in number of participants, it was a mixed group and very interesting sessions. All about where we stand with race class and gender identity at the time of America’s first African American president.

But tonight, I want to write about a little-known bit of information about me, and probably somewhat unusual for a white girl raised in the Midwest. I grew up on Dixieland jazz. Satchmo, clarinet and saxophone are what I heard as a young girl growing up, on my dad’s record player which he designed and put together himself. I don’t know why, but that was my dad’s favorite music. I personally have never been able to take classical music. It bores me to tears and doesn’t touch my heart. Can’t freaking stand opera! Blues or certain kinds of jazz touch my heart. Motown and soul get me going, makes me want to dance. Dixieland jazz brings back a flood of memories of life with my father.

Tonight we walked Bourbon Street, early in the evening. Bourbon Street is always a trip. Music blasts you from every doorway. People sing, play music and tap dance on the streets for money. You can’t stand around too long, or people come out and bug you to come inside so they can hit you up for a drink. You can’t make eye contact on the street with locals or they see a dollar sign and start giving you a story. My husband even got CAUGHT tonight when a man struck up a conversation with him and challenged him with a joke! He fell for it! The guy ended up shining his shoes, of all things, and my husband handed him the $7. in his pocket! I couldn’t believe it. They’re so quick & then you have a glob of goop on your shoe and then you feel obligated.

We decided to go in and sit down tonight & actually hear some music. So I picked an old style jazz place. It’s ALL live music, bands, singers, this is New Orleans after all! We sat down, the waitress came by, and we each ordered a coke, one by one. She gave us a rather knowing, disgusted look and went to get our cokes (non-drinkers). Then I got into the music. The man sang real old New Orleans tunes. Sitting there brought back a flood of memories of listening to this music with my dad. There was one night he took only me and my mother to downtown Philadelphia. The place was called “The Red Garter”. I remember because it was a little embarassing for this 13-or-14-yr-old girl. We got there so early, they played a set just for US. My dad sat there totally uninhibited that we were the only ones in the crowd, and clapped his hands. He always encouraged me to move however I felt like it to the music. It was a fun night. Sitting at the table in New Orleans tonight brought back that memory. I expected to turn and see my dad sitting at my table. Brought tears to my eyes, it was so strong a memory.

My father died about 2 weeks after my 16th birthday. I still thought he was King of the world. Never did get over it. It’s been so long though, that it is rare that a memory of his presence returns with such clarity. Tonight I remembered being with him, turning and seeing my dad in full enjoyment, clapping his hands to the music, when we were the only customers in the place.

back home in South Carolina 2010

January 4, 2010

It is nice to be back home in South Carolina, after 10 days of sleeping in other people’s beds, with other pillows, not in charge of my own things. We spent a week with Al’s parents, which is a good thing. They are getting older and having more physical problems. I watched Grandma Black give herself an insulin shot in the mornings, after fixing us all coffee and breakfast; listened to both of them get frustrated with each other because neither of them can hear what the other one is saying, and saw them both fall asleep in chairs about as soon as they sat down. But heaven forbid, we’re not all out of bed at 6am!! Of course, I didn’t GET out of bed at 6am, so they were constantly waiting for me to finally wake up, around 8-8:30. Grandma has nothing but decaffeinated coffee. She has this wonderful-tasting “Vanilla bean latte” though, and we brought our own teas. They don’t give Xmas presents anymore, but she still had all the cookies, fudge, banana bread and other sweets that the whole family looks forward to. As for me, I get a jar of my favorite “Chex mix” which tastes like none other.

While visiting Wisconsin, we awoke to windows frosted over with ice, since it was 2 degrees F. The weather in Lafayette, though, was the same, and when we awoke here in South Carolina this morning it was reportedly 19 degrees, which is unheard of down here. I walked twice around the pond, and for the first time saw a thin sheet of ice forming around the edges. BUT, the highs will reach into the 40s the rest of the week, and the ice will disappear.

I am depressed thinking of all the work I have to do before classes start next week Wed. But at least I have until next week Wed. . . My husband is upstairs working at his online job this morning.

Traffic on the way home was heavy, no accidents, though we saw a number of people pulled over, some having car problems, some having speeding problems and stopped by the police. We *did* drive 20 or so extra miles and reached the VIRGINIA state line, when doing the detour around the rock slide on Hwy 40, evidently missing the 26E turnoff. That was very frustrating. We had to retrace our drive, and didn’t get home until 11:30pm. Just before reaching the Chapin exit, I finally reached Level 6, in fact going on to Level 7, and beat my grandson Caspian’s score on “Brick breaker” on my cell phone.

Nice to be back home in South Carolina. Today I balance the checkbook, pay off a bill, go pick up our mail which is held at the big Chapin post office, go downtown and turn on the water in our name (since we now “bought” our house), and maybe get a little groceries to make dinner. During this break, we were at least driving through the states of: South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, AND Virginia.

big cities

October 17, 2009

We just read “Metropolis and Mental Life” by Georg Simmel in theory class last week. Some students told me the largest city they’ve been to was Columbia (size of a medium city of 70,000 or so). Simmel lived in Berlin which had 4 Million people in the early 1900s when he was there. He spoke of the fast-paced lifestyle, and having to live minute to minute, the necessity of a pocket watch. 🙂

large cities I’ve seen, mostly for a sociology conference but not all:

Toronto, Canada (beautiful people, very metropolitan, lots of browns and tans in skin color, and mixtures of Asian/Black/various places. Downtown area the most beautiful I’ve seen. Huge hotel w/rooms overlooking professional baseball games, very artsy downtown. Walked the city and into a neighborhood where people had tiny front yards and no backyards, and they grew vegs. in their tiny front yards. Could buy a ginger beer on the street.

Windsor, Canada, where they have bright red mailboxes instead of blue, just across the river from Detroit

Chicago (a city I knew pretty well)

Philadelphia, lived there when I was 13-16

New York (Sbarros and Empire state bldg., Statue of Liberty, people on the streets, many languages, vendors lining the streets selling stuff)

Washington DC, sociology conference, Leah & I walked the city, Vietnam Vet memorial, Capitol bldg. my favorite.

Cincinnati and Cleveland, OH

Atlanta, GA

(Indianapolis of course)


Milwaukee, our son works there

New Orleans now (brilliantly different from any other)

Charleston, SC (on the coast, old city, remnants of slave culture of the south, Civil War times, the ocean, Hyman’s restaurant – good seafood)

Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina

sights & sounds of New Orleans

October 16, 2009

I have seen so much in 2 days here it’s hard to put it into words. Especially quickly. Right now our son Levin is writing his story on the HS football game we attended, for the Times-Picayune. It is due by 11pm. When he finishes that, we will get something to eat somewhere, starting after midnight South Carolina time, 11:00 New Orleans time.

I am thinking of my students at Newberry who told me the largest city they’ve been in, is Columbia, SC. Columbia is the capital city of SC, and the size of Lafayette, Indiana, home of Purdue. It is really NOT a city. It’s not large enough to get the cultural flavor from many different ethnic and cultural groups. Today in New Orleans we saw restaurant after restaurant, and hundreds of little shops, each one different and colorful. Music poured out onto the streets from inside many of them. Music was being done ON the streets as well. There were 2 violin players, one who played with another guitarist outside a French donut place that is famous for their donuts and Cafe au laite. We walked up on the levee — the one that didn’t break — above the French quarter. It is stronger and protects the high class restaurant area, unlike the ones near the 9th ward that busted and sent full river and hurricane water flowing into the city, causing the horrific conditions that followed. We drove past the now rebuilt Superdome, where so many came for shelter and then lived there for days, while babies died from lack of water and chaos ensued.

I can’t be in this city and not think about all the people who suffered, lost their homes, got sick from filthy water, and all the looting that went on. The government aid and troops who never came.

This city is alive for the tourists, but is unique, with a flavor of festivals and soul and jazz unlike anywhere else. I saw a sign that said “Jazz funerals.”

There is so much life and culture in cities! This place is alive with people, from all over, flocking here. I saw a guy with a Yankees shirt on (NY), I saw a guy with a Cubs shirt on (Chicago). After living for over a year in SC where everybody who lives there is FROM there back 3 generations, it is just so refreshing.

The hotel we’re staying in is a “bed & breakfast”. It used to be an orphanage. I wonder what kids slept in my bedroom. It has “flavor”. Paint is coming off the walls. The shower works but they don’t bring you new towels every day. I’m going downstairs now to ask for some more lightbulbs, because we only have 1 out of 4 in a ceiling chandelier that works. It’s okay, it’s colorful, and the cafe downstairs is lively at 11:00 at night, lots of people. I’ve seen 2 roaches, but then this is the humid, hot south, where they just live, no getting around it.

The weather turned cooler tonight, which is a relief. Quite cool, actually, with highs in the mid-60s expected tomorrow.

what does one say at 2:30am

October 15, 2009

Here are some random 2:30 in the morning thoughts. . .

Once you get past the feeling of tiredness, you can basically stay up most of the night. Your adrenalin kicks in and you’re good to go. But the bed will feel good soon anyway.

I got all my grading done BEFORE break. ALL of it. My grades are posted to the student’s little website with grades. Hallelujah. Coming back Sunday night from New Orleans, I’ll be darn glad I did it.

My body is getting older and I don’t like it. Mostly because I’m lazy and not good at exercising. But it’s showing now. Gotta do something. My knees hurt when I bend too much or climb stairs, I look in the mirror and wonder who the hell that is? My face looks older. I don’t like how I look right now. I need to do something sexy.

The world goes to sleep and it’s nice and peaceful at 2am.

So tomorrow we take off for New Orleans and we will drive thru at least 3 states we’ve never been in! Time to pick up some magnets for my frig. Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana. I can’t wait to actually SEE New Orleans. Not a big partier, but I want to see where Katrina blew them under water, where it all took place. I wonder how our weekend will go?

Time to go to sleep now……..

accomplishments of Indiana trip

August 7, 2009


Family history: Found and photographed my parents, grandparents Plantenga, great-grandparents Brink and Plantenga, grandparents Black, gravesites. The Brinks and older Plantengas I had to find.

2) Spent time w/ Raven and Caspian. Though I lost my temper at Caspian twice, which I am disappointed in myself for, it was a good visit. Also spent time w/ Jasmine, even without the boys, which was unusual.

3) Got the boys to summer BAHA’I camp. It was a joy. Raven enjoyed his age group, Caspian enjoyed his classes, they both enjoyed swimming. They enjoyed it so much, they stayed overnight 2 nights w/ Julie & Jeff & kids. Bless them for that. Caspian showed a marked improvement in maturity over last year. There were 2 declarations of faith at camp as well.

4) Unpacked nearly ALL of Jasmine’s boxes. Wish I had a before and after picture of her living room. HA! I think I put some 20-25 boxes out for the trash.


August 6, 2009

I have been in Indiana for a week. It feels like I should stay another week and it is very hard to leave. Jasmine’s house is still a mess, though boxes are unpacked. The computer modem is blinking that all is working, but it is not working. We think we are missing a splitter, so the phone cord going into the wall is not protected, and won’t allow the Internet to work. It has all been very difficult working in my daughter’s house, with her stuff, not knowing what is important or not important, deciding what to do with what.

It turns out we set up the computer miles and miles from the nearest phone wall jack. I saw the cable outlet and thought that’s why she wanted it set up in that corner. She knew she had a long phone line cord and figured it didn’t matter. There is no phone jack in the entire living room, so it has to run to the kitchen, if she wants it downstairs.

Nothing is settled, yet I need to start out on a 10-hr drive and let it go. I managed to take pics of the gravesites in Lafayette, in 2 cemeteries, finding my great-granparents’ graves & I didn’t know where they were. That is about all I accomplished on “family history” this trip. I’m trying to get myself in gear and hit the road. It’s going to be a later trip than the one that brought me here. I also have a headache and have not slept enough. I smell Starbucks….