An Experience of a Lifetime: Greece with People to People

people-to-people
Image via Galit Breen

 

I settle onto the bus. Its plastic seats and high windows, recycled air and sense of we're going somewhere are universal.

The students walk by one by one. Highlighter colored shirts, headphones perched on necks, sunglasses resting on top of heads.

Their excitement thickens the air. Good mornings and (already) inside jokes, rustling bags and stories that have been waiting to be told fill the spaces between our seats. Their voices travel, their friendships grow.

Change is hard, and new doesn’t always feel good. The sweetness of the beautiful things these kids are seeing, their footsteps on new soil, their forks in new food, their laughter with new friends are all puzzles pieced to the bitter of missing home and edging into new.

Two girls sit near me. I haven’t noticed them together before, and can’t help but wonder how they found each other. Their heads are leaning close – midnight curls against flaxen locks. Their words are soft, one is teary, my mothering heart tugs. I look around, wondering if anyone sees, biting back the urge to pass a tissue, fix the problem, mother this moment.

That’s not my role here.

This summer, I was gifted the opportunity to go to Greece with People to People Ambassador Programs, an educational travel opportunity for students across the globe.

This bus is in Greece.

My camera strap is heavy around my own neck, my notebook is by my side. My role is to observe and photograph and note-take. But mostly, I’m watching. Breathing in what traveling looks like through new eyes. It has been a long time since I’ve traveled. But I feel their wonder, know their awe, and even understand their tears.

Change is hard, and new doesn’t always feel good. The sweetness of the beautiful things these kids are seeing, their footsteps on new soil, their forks in new food, their laughter with new friends are all puzzles pieced to the bitter of missing home and edging into new.

This bitter is what those red-rimmed eyes are about, I’m sure of that.

And the “anyone” I was searching for are the women who volunteer their time and energy and hearts to lead these trips, to smooth their way.

The bus starts on its route. Its rumble the bass to their chatter. I look out the window, note the colors. Wooden shutters in the brightest possible shades — reds, blues, yellows – framing earth colored walls. It’s stunning here.

One of the leaders steps down by the driver. Their words are wrapped in accents that I don’t understand, but I love listening to. Suddenly, Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog drowns everything and everyone out. Considering we’re a group of  38, that’s impressive.

The leader in front of me turns to face the kids. Hair glittering in the sun, burgundy-edged lips belting out the words. I feel her smile, and I'm sure that they do, too. Another leader edges by her side. Her long curls grazing strong arms. They sing and laugh and even dance, and in this way try to fill empty spots the kids might have been feeling.

They believe in People to People's mantra of peace through understanding — one person, one moment, one song at a time. They also know from experience that this kind of jar requires a soft landing.

The other two leaders sit behind me. They lean into each other across their seats. Their words pass quickly.

ADVERTISEMENT

One of them taps my shoulder. I turn in my seat, she fills me in on the whys behind the tears that I noticed, the song that I loved.

Between them, these women are managing and organizing and planning. But mostly, they're softening the path for these kids. They’re golden.

A teacher, a travel agent, two mothers. They go on these trips because they understand the value of travel, and of the kind of change that can only happen by plucking yourself from known into new.

They believe in People to People's mantra of peace through understanding — one person, one moment, one song at a time. They also know from experience that this kind of jar requires a soft landing, and that’s their role here.

I wonder if I have it in me to do what they do, and while I'm not sure of that, I do know that this kind of leading and teaching and being is breath taking, and I am inspired.

Have you traveled abroad? Would you allow your child to go without you at some point when they are older? 

I'm beyond honored to be a Special Ambassador Correspondent to People to People whose mission is to expand global experiences one person, and one travel experience, at a time. Find out more about our programs here.

What do you think?

An Experience of a Lifetime: Greece with People to People

Galit Breen is the bestselling author of Kindness Wins, a simple guide to teaching your child to be kind online; the TEDx Talk, “Raising a digital kid without having been one”; the online course Raise Your Digital Kid™; and the Facebook group The Savvy Parents Club. She believes you can get your child a phone and still create a grass-beneath-their-bare-feet childhood for them. Galit’s writing has been featured on The Huffington Post; The Washington Post; Buzzfeed; TIME; and more. She liv ... More

Tell us what you think!

2 comments

  1. Phammom says:

    I went with my French class to France it was amazing and well worth it!

  2. katbiggie1 says:

    Well, I just wrote a long comment and then it gave me an error that I’m posting comments too quickly! In a nutshell, I said yes, I traveled and yes, I can’t wait to send my kids on exchange programs. I am glad you had a wonderful time and happy to hear such great endorsements of this group!

Advertisement
[x]
×

EverydayFamily.com Week-by-Week Newsletter

Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year! Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year!

Due Date or Baby's Birth Date


By clicking the "Join Now" button you are agreeing to the terms of use and privacy policy.

Send this to a friend