When an earthquake occurred in China during students’ spring break, and an Icelandic volcano spewed ash across European skies, and Greeks threw projectiles on Syntagma Square in Athens, several friends and professional associates asked me the same question: “Why are you in this crazy business?!”
Well, it all harks back to why we list “Never a dull moment” as one of our corporate values. Those of us who have committed our careers to the world of travel and international education love the ever-changing world in which we live and thrive on its unpredictability, its surprises, its challenges and its mystery. None of us could survive in clock-watching jobs, where routine is the norm and changes cause great discomfort and anxiety. Quite the opposite: we love the dynamism of change, the rewards of evolution, the promise of a different tomorrow—a world in which learning truly never ends.
After 22 years in the educational travel sphere, I sometimes think “I have seen it all.” I couldn’t be more wrong, because no sooner has that thought occurred than I am presented with yet another “first.” Whether it’s having a group return from Turkey on 9/11 and have to land in Nova Scotia to be accommodated on a Canadian military base, or facilitating the return of stranded travelers during a volcano eruption, or accommodating a request for a wedding ceremony to be performed on our chartered yacht in the Aegean Sea—I am confident now that I will never have seen it all. And for this, I am eternally grateful.
The fields of educational travel and international education (representing both sides of the Academic Travel Abroad business: tours and study abroad programs) usually attract individuals who are intellectually curious, enjoy challenges, have a sense of exploration and discovery and a deep appreciation for life in all forms. This rich community is well represented within ATA.
During our Spring Dance Party at my house last Friday, this positive energy and love of life was very apparent! Our community is diverse (representing not only various states around the country, but also Japan, China, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Italy, France and Panama!), the conversations were animated, and the dancing was energetic and fun. This is a group that works very hard, yet understands the importance of work-life balance and knows how to relax.
So in the midst of world upheavals, I thank my lucky stars that I work amidst such talented, intelligent and spirited individuals. Thank you all and may we continue to learn new lessons every day.