Cuba: A Return to Sanity?

Dear Friends, At noon on December 17, 2014, the Academic Travel Abroad team gathered in our conference room to hear President Obama announce he intended to normalize relations with Cuba for the first time in over 50 years.  Many on our team have spent the past few years working closely with Cuba to deliver superb educational … Continue reading

Enter the World of the Baroque

Dear Friends, The small man with the over-sized head smiled knowingly, the half-man-half-woman stared disconcertingly, the African prince squinted curiously, and the hooked-nose devil tiptoed past fleetingly. Other masqueraded figures laughed, chatted and gazed at us as we circled the ballroom of Cesky Krumlov Castle. We were asked to imagine the room candlelit, with the mirrors scattered … Continue reading

A Rich Meeting Ground: RD Gras in Prague

Dear Friends, Our company vision is a lofty concept: to enhance global understanding through travel and education. Once a year, I see the manifestation of all that we do and aspire to do become tangible. We call it “RD Gras,” a playful term coined by none other than one of our RDs (Resident Directors) years … Continue reading

A Humble Player on History’s Stage: Marta Rojas

Dear Friends, Her eyes are lit with youthful spirit. Her smile is genuine and engaging, as she speaks humbly of her past.  All 83 years of her past.  Marta Rojas meets us at the Union of Artists and Writers (UNEAC) in Havana in June.  It is a typically hot and humid Cuban day, drenched intermittently … Continue reading

The Riviera and the 7th Art: Cannes at its Best!

Dear Friends, Last time I was there, I ate lunch at a café table next to Michael Douglas and a beautiful model. I watched a very young and shy Isabelle Adjani being interviewed in the lobby of the Carlton Hotel. I gaped at a rather large Shelley Winters, a faded beauty who still radiated charm, … Continue reading

Cuba: What Does it Say About our Country?

Dear Friends, I find Cuba endlessly fascinating. When you travel to Cuba, you always end up leaving with more questions than answers. Yet, beyond the cultural richness of this island nation, there is another way in which Cuba gives this U.S. citizen pause. Cuba provides an intriguing lens through which to view our own nation. … Continue reading

In Search of the Perfect Laab in Laos

Dear Friends, Laab (also written ‘larb’) is a dish originating in Laos that has become a staple of menus across Thailand.  Its name means “luck” and this dish is a frequent star at the table during festivals and special occasions. It also makes the perfect gift for guests, conveying your good wishes along with some … Continue reading

A Lao Village Along the Mekong

The splashing of water lures me out to my stern balcony. They must be diving under the ship to fix the faulty propeller, I think. As I lean over the edge of the railing, I discover I am wrong: four Lao children are swimming gleefully around the boat on a competitive circuit, the weakest swimmer … Continue reading

Cuba: Survival with Passion

Dear Friends, I confess, I love the stories behind a revolution. They are exciting, bold, romantic, epic. They also entail struggle, pain, blood and death.  Unlike wars between nations, revolutions attempt to throw out an old system and replace it with something fresh, more just, more virtuous. Idealism runs rampant until reality sets in and … Continue reading

Sure, we’re a global power–but are we global citizens?

Dear Friends, I remember my father telling of his frustration and powerlessness during a meeting of top American officers in Saigon in the 1960s.  They discussed strategies that made no sense, they exhibited a complete ignorance of Vietnam and the Vietnamese people, they discounted advice from their fellow officers who had seen combat in this … Continue reading