March 4, 2011
It might take awhile to spot the two travelers and bikes in the sea of student faces in the above photo. Kat and I had been offered a place to stay by a woman riding a scooter, who pulled over and chatted with us on the side of a busy highway in Thailand.
We followed her and only later discovered that she was a school teacher and we were being hosted in the teacher's lounge. We had a grand meal and a good night's sleep.
In the morning, we were informed that the school was having an assembly. "Who is speaking?" we asked.
The headmaster (her husband) interpreted, and we shared our travel experiences with hundreds of delighted kids. After the show, we found out we had a second engagement at the school across the river (photo below).
You don't need to be an accomplished speaker, or be on an epic journey, to be an inspiration at a school. And you don't need to wait to be asked by a stranger on a scooter. Be the initiator.
If you are traveling by bike in a foreign land (or even your own country), stop at a local school and ask if they'd like you to talk about your travels. You'll be surprised how often your offer will be graciously accepted.
Many schools don't have funds for speakers and most never get the opportunity to host international travelers.
So visit a school. Share your adventure. You'll make some kids (and teachers) happy, you'll be treated like a rock star, and you just may change a life or two.
Now that's a travel perk!
Photo by Willie Weir
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road, and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.