School’s in Session – Talking Travel

November 3, 2011 8 Comments »

'Iolani School

The campus of ‘Iolani School in Honolulu

“What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?”
“So….(big pause) you don’t live anywhere?”
“What’s the grossest thing you’ve eaten?”
“What are some good volunteer programs?”
“What made you decide to quit your job?”
“Do you file/pay taxes?”
“Do you ever worry about your safety?”
“What’s your favorite country?”

For the last two days I’ve been questioned. The questions have come from some surprising characters – surfers, fishermen, librarians, teachers, Superman, Mini Mouse, and even Jesus! Instead of hitting the Hawaii beaches and hiking trails for the past two days, I’ve been hitting the books instead; at school.

I have been a guest of the ‘Iolani School, a private college prep school in Honolulu. No, I haven’t decided to start teaching again, instead I was asked to come speak to the students and faculty about my travels, photography, and online businesses. My speaking engagements spread out over two days, but one of those days happened to be Halloween – hence Jesus, fisherman, Superman, and Mini Mouse! It was definitely my best-dressed audience ever.

I love speaking at schools; influencing students when they are young and open to possibilities is the best time to plant seeds. I consider how my life might have been different if I had been exposed to travel younger or the possibilities of other careers rather than the normal career path. I wonder if I would have went a different direction outside of the ‘safe’ Accounting path in college. I wonder if I would have looked into study abroad programs or considered taking a gap year? One will never know, and I certainly don’t regret any of my decisions, but I do think that life is full of little moments which influence you and change your path; especially when you are young. The path is easy to change when you are young. But when you are entrenched in mid-life responsibilities, it becomes infinitely harder.

My teacher host, Mr. Brasher (Mark – who is a friend of mine!), suggested that I dress as I do when I’m traveling; he felt the kids would feel it was more authentic. Ok – no problem, I can forgo showering and wear sandals if I must!

I did 4 different presentations at ‘Iolani school – each vastly different and each equally fun. First I spoke to high school age Young Entrepreneurs about my online businesses and the industry behind search engine optimization, and social media marketing. I’m pretty sure they were a bit surprised to find out that all of that time they spend on Facebook could actually be used for running a business one day. Hopefully I made them think about marketing and Google Search results in a different way.


Presenting for the Entreprenuriel Students

Next up – 7th Grade Geography and culture. This is one of my favorite things to talk to kids about! I focused on the Mongol Rally and the charity work, plus what it’s like to live in Vietnam. Showing them food, transportation, and home life from countries that are vastly different than America can be mind blowing to kids! The biggest oohs and ahhs are always the motorbike refrigerator picture and the man eating a scorpion picture; guaranteed excitement for 7th graders. We do quizzes about food, country locations, and I even hand out money from around the world. The excitement of telling a kid they just won $5000 Vietnamese Dong is pretty fun…until they figure out it’s worth about 30 cents…AND they have to go to Vietnam to use it!

I then switched to Photography students, a subject that I rarely get to talk about. I carried in all of my gear and showed them everything I use. We talked about travel photography, tips for making your travel pictures more effective, composition, and how to determine what to shoot. Hopefully I gave the teacher a few good ideas for homework assignments in the future!


Me in front of the beautifu ‘Iolanil landscaping…notice all of the leis!

Finally I graduated to talking to the teachers about doing meaningful summer travel and Meet Plan Go! I remind them of how lucky they are when it comes to travel. They are one of the only professions that get extended time off regularly, and get paid during that time including benefits; these are two of the biggest hurdles to career break and sabbatical travel for most people and professions! They already eliminated two hurdles…now they just need to get out and go! Volunteering, charity work, budget travel were hot topics for the teachers and I was able to provide them with some resources where they could get more information and hopefully provided them a little inspiration to start to take advantage of their summers off.

It was a full two days of presentations, but I loved every minute of being on campus. I love seeing kids who have the whole world ahead of them with so many possibilities. I love the fact that they are fearless and haven’t yet inherited all of the conservative adult ways that infiltrate us as each year passes.

I was showered with leis and applause in each class and hopefully got a few people thinking different about travel.

Now…it’s time to go work on my tan…Hawaii is calling!

Oh – and here’s the answers to those questions!


Checking out the lockers…

“What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?” – Mongol Rally
“So….(big pause) you don’t live anywhere?” – Yes, that’s right, I live out of the suitcase for the last 5 years.
“What’s the grossest thing you’ve eaten?” – It’s a toss up between lamb brain & rat
“What are some good volunteer programs?” – Conversation Corps, or to provide a list of volunteer opportunities by country/city
“What made you decide to quit your job?”  I realized that I even though I was good at what I did, I didn’t really like it.
“Do you file/pay taxes?”  Yes – of course!!
“Do you ever worry about your safety?” – No.  You simply have to be smart about your travels.  And know that you are never really alone unless you want to be.
“What’s your favorite country?”  Impossible to choose a favorite – but Mongolia, Nepal, Vietnam, Jordan are some of my favorites!

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