by Nancy Dorrans
We travel, some of us forever to seek other states, other lives, other souls – Anais Nin
Call me non-traditional. Instead of going to college right out of high school like so many of my friends, I took a course in travel and tourism at a local trade school and started my career as a travel agent in 1982 — just after the airlines deregulated.
A lot of new airlines appeared after deregulation; People’s Express, Frontier, Texas Intl, Piedmont, New York Air and many others. They all wanted the travel agent’s business and as agents, we got some great deals.
I began traveling whenever I could. This instilled a sense of adventure that I hold to this day. Travel gave me the courage and desire to move away from Northeast Ohio to New England; however, I still had the unfinished goal of getting my bachelor’s degree.
With more courage, I left the travel business and worked as a receptionist at Suffolk University Law School and took advantage of the employee tuition program. In four and a half years I had my BS degree in sociology and a certificate to teach social studies.
While at Suffolk, I learned of a study abroad program they offered called “InterFuture” or Intercultural Studies for the Future. Traveling for college credit also appealed to my sense of adventure so, I applied, was accepted and spent my last two semesters overseas.
InterFuture is not your typical junior year abroad. I and about nine other scholars spent a nine month preparatory period developing our comparative research projects and then we were sent solo to different countries of our choice to gather data.
My project asked. “Where do students from other countries learn about different cultures and what teaching methods are used?”
My first semester was spent in The Netherlands, and then I headed to Zimbabwe!
My experience in Zimbabwe the summer of 1994 is and always will be one of the most special of my life! I stayed with a local family, visited rural schools, interviewed many teachers and students, and even met with Mr. Chifunyise, the Deputy Secretary of Education and Culture. (Equivalent to our Secretary of Education in DC)
Mr. Chifunyise arranged for me to meet and stay with a teacher in Bulawayo, because he said it wasn’t right for me to have all my experiences with the Shona people of eastern Zimbabwe. I wasn’t to leave before experiencing the hospitality of his people, the Ndbele tribe in the western part of the country.
There’s not enough room here to tell you the whole story, but the short version is this: When I arrived in Bulawayo, the teacher didn’t answer her phone, so I boarded a packed bus at dusk that was headed to the rural areas and asked the driver to drop me off at a national park, where I thought there might be lodging. There wasn’t. It got dark.
I met Sam, a rhinoceros poacher patrolman, and he helped me hitch a ride back into town. I called the teacher again. She answered and apologized for not being home earlier. She asked me where I had been. The story was so crazy that all I could say was, “I took the wrong bus.”
There are so many other stories, as I spent a month away from Harare, traveling for six days in an overland vehicle through Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya to attend the annual International Social Studies Educators’ Conference in Nairobi. Then I took a weeklong safari in the Serengeti, spent a few days in Arusha and finished with a visit to the beautiful spice island of Zanzibar.
Some of the most wonderful, genuine and caring people I’ve ever met were in Africa, and I’ve always wanted to return. So, in May of 2016, I’m going back to Africa with a small group, this time to explore South Africa and Victoria Falls.
A few spots are available on this amazing adventure but space is limited. The details are on my website at www.adventure-marketplace.com.
Contact me if you’re interested in joining us!