Thursday, June 17, 2010

The World Is a Book

In the blank journals we put in each of our participants' hotel rooms, the first page contained a quote from Augustine:

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page."

In that light, the World to the Wise Cultural Tour participants are doing some great reading! The tour is off to a stupendous start. Our days have been so full that it has been difficult to find the time to write a blog post -- but I must take a minute to observe that I don't think we could have chosen a better place to begin our tour than England. All of us participating are Anglo-Saxons, so being here can only feel a little like coming home.

Today was the perfect day for us to take a day trip to Oxford (pictured), where we traced the steps of centuries of scholars from the thirteenth century on, including the likes of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. There was one breathtaking view after another as we visited the many colleges that make up Oxford University. We even took a midday break to punt the river Cherwell just next to Magdalene College, where C.S. Lewis was a fellow. We ended this picture perfect day with dinner at The Eagle and Child, the pub affectionately nicknamed "The Bird and Baby" by Lewis' and Tolkien's group of kindred spirits, the Inklings, who gathered frequently there to discuss their readings and writings over a pint.

London has not disappointed either. We've been awed in Westminster Abbey, thrilled on the London Eye, inspired at St. Paul's cathedral and the National Gallery, sobered at the Tower of London, and extravagantly entertained at "Wicked." Perhaps I'll be able to grab some time during our train trip to Paris on Saturday to reflect a bit more on some of our profound experiences. 

Let the reading continue!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

South Africa's Time to Shine

For all its problems and the challenges it faces in the 21st century, for the next three weeks, South Africa is a united country. It is the first African nation in history to host the World Cup, the most watched sporting event in the world. Whether black or white, South Africans everywhere are donning the multi-colored flag, understandably proud of this historic moment. 
This is a nation brimming with potential, yet plagued by staggering challenges: high crime, an HIV/AIDS epidemic...yet if you know any South Africans personally, you know their irresistible charm and sunny outlook -- and this is an opportunity for the world to sit up and take notice. South Africa, we salute you.
Interestingly, I'll be watching England v. USA from my hotel in London on the first night of the World to the Wise Cultural Tour. The hotel is probably the safest place for an American to watch! Speaking of the cultural tour, you'll need to visit this blog often over the next few weeks to follow our adventures. It all begins this Friday!