finding home around the globe
When we met, Lisa and I just knew our children would be waiting for us in unexpected places. Through the miracle of childbirth, the magic of international adoption and travels across the globe, all 5 of them found us, forming our unconventional family. Like so many others, we live out the American Dream of over-booked schedules, action-packed weeks and endless to-dos.
Both of us are serial entrepreneurs and hopeless MBAs who innately write mission statements, corporate core values and business plans as often as grocery lists. So, why not do that for our most important venture? One wintery day in 2012 at Crystal Mountain, while the kids searched for powder, we wrote our Family Mission Statement and Core Values. Once in place, suddenly things like remodeling our circa 1961 kitchen didn’t seem as important in instilling the values we hoped to imbue in our children and achieve our family mission.
Ever the disrupters, we decided to embark on a global adventure – a gap year for the family, if you will – where we jump into the world and revel in the power of connection.
We have put together a global curriculum that focuses on connection to world cultures, environment, volunteerism, craft, art and spirituality.
Europe: Italy, Greece, Spain
We begin where much of our own western culture finds its roots in old-world Europe. We’ll trace ancient Greece and Roman civilizations, explore Europe’s obsession with football at Barcelona FC, take silly pictures in front of Michelangelo’s David, learn to cook an over-the-top paella in Seville, leap off cliffs into the waters that cover Atlantis, and master the art of leisurely dining as we see how other cultures slow the pace of life.
Africa: Morocco, Tanzania
Moving on to the vast expanse of the African continent, we will barely scratch the surface of the divergent cultures, multitudes of ecosystems and the myriad of landscapes. Our sampling includes hiking the Atlas Mountains, tracking animals across the Serengeti, building a library in an orphanage located where the slave trade started, teaching business basics to woman in Bagamoyo, getting lost in the mazes of souks in Marrakech, fishing in Zanzibar, diving with whale sharks and making new friends with a nomadic Masai family.
Southeast Asia: Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia
There are some places in the world that just feel like home, and for our family, this corner of the globe not only is the birthplace of our youngest boys, but a place where the seven of us feel the power of connection the strongest. We will reconnect with our neighborhood and friends in Hanoi, volunteer at the twins’ orphanage, play i-spy in the pagodas of Bagan, seek out the perfect foot massage bar in Bangkok, master a craft in Ubud, learn the secret of meditation with a Brahmin priest, snorkel in the Andaman Sea and learn to make perfect pad thai.
Birthplace to one of the oldest continuous civilizations, in addition to our daughter, China beckons us to learn, appreciate and understand. Our adventure starts in the Guangxi province where our daughter was born, lending hand at the orphanage where she lived, hiking the magical peaks of the Karst Mountains, learning the art of calligraphy and attempting a family mastery of tai chi. We then move north to Beijing, sleeping on the Great Wall to celebrate a 50th birthday, swimming in the Olympic water cube, rowing around North Lake, seeking random treasures in the remaining hutong neighborhoods and teaching a democracy civics lesson in Tiananmen Square. We end our China adventure in the streets of Shanghai, soaking in the vibrancy of the country’s growth, exploring the gardens of Yuyuan and searching for the best xiaolongbao.
The Pacific: Australia, French Polynesia, Easter Island, Ecuador & the Galapagos
Our last section covers a lot of ground, explores some of the most pristine and endangered places of the globe, and probes a great mystery. We will surround ourselves in the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef, ponder competing anthropological theories of the moai, learn to cook llapingachos with a family in Quito, study evolution theory in the Galapagos Archipelago, and unwind on countless pristine beaches.