My name is Sharon. I’m a passionate equity activist, a world-wide traveller, an aspiring yogi, and a voracious reader. about Sharon
By day, I serve as an educator for a performing arts school in Washington, DC. By night, I blend my love of learning with an innate desire to grow, experience, and connect through literature and travel reviews.
My adventures started haphazardly at first, then with far more concerted efforts.
It all started with essay contest I won in the 9th grade that granted me a slot in the Youth For Understanding study abroad program to Australia. It was a safe choice, but so far away!, and I ruminated and agonized about the idea for weeks – planning what small talk I would make with my flight companions, what questions I would ask my host family, and what key points I wanted to make sure my new friends would know about me so they’d think I was super cool and well-travelled, just like them. Anxiety nearly conquered my desire to see the world.
I considered myself fortunate to be placed with another American in my welcoming and gracious host family, and together, we experienced life in the suburbs of Melbourne before joining with other high schoolers from across the planet to traverse north through the outback before returning south along the coast.
It was an incredible experience full of tourism and souvenirs. I bought nick-nacks in each city and held on to what remained of my boarding passes as if they were the golden tickets themselves, because clearly, I’d never again have an opportunity this amazing and I’d HAVE to have something to show off!
Four years later, as I contemplated which post-high school path I’d choose, I again was presented with an opportunity to study abroad with Youth For Understanding. They had opportunities to folks who had graduated in the states to take a 13th Year Abroad and graduate from an international high school. I could take another step forward in life without having to join the army – what great luck!
My 13th year was transformational, and in that year, not only did I have the chance to meet incredible people, learn German, and take excursions to neighboring countries, but I was able to truly experience life in another country and understand that commonalities that we all share across humankind, beginning, for the first time, to consciously explore the discomfort of being different.
When I returned to the states, not having seen my family and friends in more than a year, I was changed. Deeply and forever. I took up the study of the individual and the society at my university, majoring in Psychology and Sociology. Always the eager beaver, I sought out as many certificates and minors as I could in cultural and linguistic studies, and I continued my love of reading and German through a number of Germanistics courses. Later, I returned to Germany to study German language and literature at the Universitat Augsburg.
And then I learned about Semester at Sea. A large ship that circumnavigates globe, hosting prominent world figures, offering classes and docking in ports of call around the Earth. Aboard this ship and trekking through countries, I have learned more about myself and the world than I ever could have through traditional study and made friends that to this day are some of my nearest and dearest.
The most integral parts of this trip for me were the literature class that I took, the experiential excursions we embarked on, and the personal connections that I’ve made. Together, they serve as the backdrop for my interest in this blog. In short, the literature class was a way for us to learn about the people and the culture of our future ports through their own words before embarking on their land. There is no better way to experience a culture than through the lens of the participants. The excursions were opportunities to venture past the monuments and “must-sees” to the paths truly less travelled: orphanages in Cambodia, schools in the Amazon, Islamic Cultural Centers in Mauritius, and through these experiences, I was able to connect with folks from all over the world in a new and curious way.
Through my blog, I hope to share about my experiences in other countries through both my personal lens and the lens of the literature and literary laureates. I also aim to provide encouragement for those with general anxiety and anxiety disorders.
Where have I been?
Check out the image below for a visual of all of the amazing places I’ve been fortunate enough to experience and My Bucket List for the places I hope to visit soon.
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