“Look! It’s the whole wide world.”
These are my daughter’s words. She said this on her first morning waking up in Jamaica, standing on the upstairs balcony which overlooked a beautiful view of the bay and ocean.
2 Years ago we decided to make a change in our life. I took a leave of absence from my job, my husband jumped full in to his writing career, we took the kids out of school, and we moved to Jamaica.
We lived there for 6 months, and were planning to stay longer, but travel pushed us to move across the world to the Asian continent.
Today we are back in Canada, and after watching an interesting episode of Anthony Bordain’s Parts Unknown where he visited Jamaica and focused on an area that was essentially around the corner from where we lived, Jamaica is on my mind today.
Jamaica can be described as colourful in every way. The history, music, people, land, food. It all has a colourful vibrancy that really is unique to the small island nation.
My children learned a great deal living there. It was the start of our homeschool journey, it was the start of a new lifestyle for them, it was a change in food, culture, language and life. Even though I am half Jamaican, and we are close to that side of the family, my children so far were growing up in Canadian culture. Living in Jamaica of course brought a whole new experience.
In Jamaica Ronan’s love of fish and marine life flourished. We swam in the ocean almost everyday. He learned how to snorkel, we watched fish, crabs, urchins, were stung by jellyfish. It was an ideal place for him as a homeschooler to follow his growing passion and interest (Fish and Marine Biology).
My dad, who was born and raised on the island chatted endlessly with him about their concern over the spear fisherman, their unsustainable practices, and the loss of fish in the beautiful Caribbean Sea surrounding the island.
We learned about the Oracabessa Fish Sanctuary which is taking an active role in working to replenish the coral reef and marine life population. My husband took Ronan with him to meet the person that is running the nonprofit. He met with them for 2 hours, telling them about the obstacles of getting started, educating the public on benefits, and other programs they hope to develop.
My daughter painted there endlessly. Being outside continuously, the warm weather and sunshine she was inspired. (She says that she loves the weather and that it doesn’t snow there.)
Even though my dad is with us in Canada a large amount of the time, they also both loved having time with their Papa there and time with that side of the family.
There is so much growth and opportunity in travel with our kids. The world is literally the greatest classroom available.
Not only has it built knowledge and love of the world, but travel has also given my children greater perspective, and empathy towards others because they better understand not only our differences, but also our similarities. It has encouraged our children to take risks.
If you are considering it- take the leap. You don’t even have to travel far. Check out what is a short drive outside of your area. A day, or weekend trip.
We are back in our home province of Alberta, Canada. I was reading an article from Australia in which the author listed 25 world travel destinations that turn the planet into the best classroom ever. Two of these places are right here, a few hours from home, and places I visited endlessly as a child, and still do. (The Rockies- Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Waterton Lakes and Yoho, and Dinosaur Provincial Park)
What other ways can we bring travel and the world into the home?
Zahra and Ronan are happy to be back enjoying Canadian culture and their family, but they have brought up places that they want to see and learn more about. For Ronan it is Vietnam, and for Zahra, Australia. But of course, they both cannot wait to go back to Jamaica.
Do you or your children have a travel list of places you want to visit or learn more about?
What ways can you bring the world into your home?
There’s a whole wide world and classroom waiting.