Exploring the Amazon and Meeting the Village Elders

When you and your spouse have milestone birthdays and an anniversary in the same year… it is time to celebrate BIG TIME.  While most folks would think the best way to do this is a fabulous cruise in the Caribbean or a luxury hotel stay in Paris, my husband and I tend to think “outside the box”.  So for our big celebrations that particular year we chose to cruise up the Peruvian part of the Amazon during the dry season on a wooden riverboat named Dawn on the Amazon. You see, we were keen to explore the Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve.

Dawn on the Amazon

 

We believed our cultural adventure would only begin once we were actually in the Amazon.  Au contraire!   Continue reading

In the Shadow of Salvador Dalí in Spain

A land of good food, remarkable culture, and the siesta.

If you ever get the chance to go to Spain, just go.  Get there as fast as you can!

Several years ago I was blessed with the opportunity to give a guest lecture on public sphere theory at the Instituto de Empresa (IE) in the heart of Madrid’s financial district.  I must tell you this is an awesome campus in an amazing city. It has approximately 1900 students from 90 different countries, so it is very cosmopolitan.  There is also a satellite campus in the ancient city of Segovia.  There, classrooms are built above and around archeological sites. The whole experience was simply extraordinary.

All guest faculty at IE in Madrid stay in the Residencia de Estudiantes.  This was the first cultural center of Spain and it has hosted a number of artistic and scientific scholars…including the painter Salvador Dali. All faculty members in residence eat meals together and gather in common areas to encourage dialogue between the arts and sciences.   Other scholars who have stayed there include Albert Einstein and Jose Ortega y Gasset. I was humbled to be in the shadow of such great minds. Continue reading

IFest: The Best Houston Has to Offer (For Extra Credit)!

Have you ever wanted to travel to Argentina, Australia, Brazil, the Caribbean, China, India or Ireland?  How can you do that without buying a plane ticket, getting a passport, or taking time off from work?

There is a way to do just that in the cosmopolitan city of Houston, which is one of America’s most diverse urban areas.  It’s called the Houston International Festival (or IFest for short).  For two weekends (this year April 26-27 and May 3-4), downtown Houston becomes another place on the planet.  Literally.  The countries/regions that I just listed have been the featured cultures at IFest in the last six years.

If you want to visit Australia in the next two weekends, head to IFest because that is the highlighted country this year.  The culture of “the land down under” will be presented with a lot of activities.  I must say as an American expatriate, I always resonated with the Aussies I met traveling or working. They are a lot like us Americans, yet also a little bit different (in a very good way) so it should be a lot of fun.

Between 100,000-150,000 people visit IFest annually.  This is probably the largest international festival in the United States.  When I teach Intercultural Communication here at HBU, I offer students extra credit to attend the festival and then have them write a paper about the food, music, and cultural artifacts that they observed using the theoretical concepts we learned in class.  There is a lot to eat, hear, and see! Continue reading

How to Get a Cow to Cross a Bridge in the Himalayas

As they say, “you can take a girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl”.  Previously, I wrote to you about The Long Road to Rodeo with my steer Sebastian.  Let me now share an intercultural cow story.

In the early 1990’s my husband and I traveled in Nepal for six weeks.  While we spent a lot of time in Kathmandu and Pokhra seeing all of the sights, we were young and ready to hike in the Himalayas. Continue reading