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Grateful for our Interconnectedness While Social Distancing

In an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, every country in the world has closed its borders and many citizens are self-quarantining themselves, halting all local community engagement activities. During this time of social distancing and no traveling, it is a time to embrace our global interconnectedness more than ever right now.

Travel is a wonderful expression of human curiosity and when you venture outside your world—and outside of yourself—with an open mind and heart, you open yourself to the timeless truths that bind us together as fellow human beings, no matter how different we may look, dress or speak.

Inspired by Brené Brown’s recent words, our Global Family Travels team has shared some lovely synchronistic stories that will warm your heart and reaffirm what matters most: our shared values and connectedness.

Global Connectedness Travel Stories

Arlene and Karolina: A Fast Friendship Formed Over Soccer Cleats

by: Jennifer Spatz, Founder, Global Family Travels

In April of 2014, I took my family on a familiarization trip (FAM) to Nicaragua, which is an amazing country filled with so many fun things to do. We stayed with the Alvarez family on Omtepe Island, a serene island that offers a little of everything that Nicaragua has to offer, including pre-Columbian history, two beautiful volcanos, hiking, horseback riding and beautiful beaches.

The highlight of our time on Omtepe was delivering 25 pairs of soccer cleats for community children and playing soccer with them on the beach. One pair of pink soccer cleats fit our homestay family’s 8-year old neighbor, Karolina, perfectly. My daughter Arlene and Karolina became quick friends after just two hours together, without speaking the same language. These two kindred spirits swung off of tree branches together, splashed in the lake, kicked the soccer ball around, and lounged in the hammock off of the front porch like two peas in a pod. It was magical!

Exploring passions and fostering deep connections with my Nepalese guide

By: Lisa Merrill, Co-Leader of Ladakh Social Impact Photo Tour

In this time of global crisis and social isolation, I find serenity in long nature walks and by connecting virtually with friends and family. One example of global interconnectedness is the exhilarating trek I did last year in Nepal with our guide Kandu Sherpa.

As a photographer, I move through the world slowly on a continual visual scavenger hunt for images that evoke joy and wonder. On this trip to Nepal, I was usually at the back of the all-women group of hearty trekkers, which was fine by me. It led to hours of fascinating conversations with Kandu, who was “sweep.” I treasure our bond and marvel at the many fundamental values and passions we share, despite our differences in age (I’m 57, she’s 30), origin (New York and a remote Himalayan village), culture and careers.

At one point we stopped at a lovely stream and waterfall where I took photographs of stone cairns while Kandu made a slow-mo video to send to her grandmother in Kathmandu. We talked about family, then more deeply about tranquility, creativity, and the joy we both get from sharing our experiences with others. On other hikes we learned that we both foster shelter dogs and spoke of our shared passion for female empowerment and leadership. Kandu is one of the first female trekking guides in Nepal, and I admire her deeply.

My wanderlust is stronger than ever, and I look forward to getting back to the magnificent Himalayas in September when my husband John and I will co-lead a Global Family Travels Social Impact photo tour in the vibrant Buddhist culture of Ladakh in Northern India.

Comfort and Magic During a Trip to Italy

By: Kelly McCoy, Program Manager, Africa & Seattle Sustainable Community Tours

In light of the beautiful communities in Italy sharing music and singing in unison from their balconies the past few days, I am reminded of a special and unforgettable moment during a trip to Italy a few years ago.

Seven of us were traveling to Italy to celebrate the Big 40 for myself and one of my best friends. A few of us were to meet up in Toronto and fly to Rome together. Due to high winds in Chicago, my flight was cancelled, and I ended up flying solo through Munich.

Not speaking a lick of German, I was trying to find my gate in Munich when I bumped into an Italian woman. I apologized in my broken Italian, and then we both broke out laughing. Then in her broken English and my broken Italian, we tried to have a friendly conversation while we waited. There was beauty in this, because we were smiling as we tried to understand one another. We separated when it was time to board the plane for Rome. We later we said our goodbyes at baggage claim in Rome and went our own ways. But what a fun experience that was, this connection of two lost people who found comfort in conversation.

Flash forward a few days, when my friends and I were getting off a train in Florence. As we were disembarking, my new Italian friend appeared in the same door to board the train. We both stopped, gasped, smiled from ear-to-ear and hugged as if we have known each other all our lives. The doors were closing, so we waved goodbye again through the window. I had goosebumps and my friends got a kick out of my small world story! It was such a beautiful moment of synchronicity and connection.

A Strange Coincidence over Mount Everest

By: Peta Mehlman, Family Adventure Planner for Global Family Travels

One of my favorite travel memories is from several years ago in Nepal. My father had passed away from cancer and I felt I need a breather to grieve this incredible loss. Traveling to Nepal helped in so many ways, thanks to the gentleness and kindness of the Nepalese people to connecting with local school kids while trekking in the Annapurna mountains. It was incredibly lovely, walking for many hours through terraced green farmlands perched on steep slopes, seeing gorgeous rhododendron forests.

We struck up a wonderful friendship with our Sherpa and I treasured the special moments of meeting local villagers who greeted us with “Namaste” in kindness. I had to chuckle as we reached the top a range, only to find a vendor selling Coke and Snickers bars.

Later, I took a Buddha Air flight over Mount Everest. Once we were airborn, I overhead someone say my name. I responded, only to find out that they were speaking to another Peta who was also from South Africa and a distant relative. Was it meant to be that we met, or just a strange coincidence way above Everest?

Know We Will Travel Again Soon

We take comfort in our interconnected world. During this uncertain time right now, we are even more grateful for such special moments as those we have shared, and the personal connections we have made during our travels.

Like many of you, we’re sad that our upcoming travel plans have been impacted due to the uncertainty created by the coronavirus. Once we weather this storm, we look forward to helping to revitalize the local and global communities we work in by offering heart-felt travel experiences to Learn, Serve & Immerse.

In the meantime, we invite you to share your own personal travel story that made you realize how interconnected we all are. Feel free to share with a photo on one of our social media channels listed below and please use the hashtags: #GlobalInterconnectednessTravelStory #GFT for Global Family Travels!

Social Media Handles are as follows:

May Peace be with you and your family during this uncertain time and always!

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