Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Old Country

Some people might wonder why World to the Wise cultural tours have been exclusively to European destinations (so far).  The 2010 tour took us to England, France and the Netherlands, and this year’s tour saw us in Italy, France and England. While there are many, many other destinations that hold our interest (and perhaps yours as well), there are a number of reasons we have chosen to focus initially and primarily on Europe.

As Caucasian Americans, my wife and I both recognize that our roots lie almost entirely in Europe. By blood, I am actually not a Durham; my father, whose surname was originally Oatis, was adopted by an aunt who had married a man named Durham. Still, there are strong Anglo-Saxon lines in my family, as well as German. My mother’s maiden name was Knox, as in John Knox, the great Scottish church reformer. When I am in Europe, I feel a sense of connectedness, as if I were visiting grandparents I never knew. Although cultural differences abound -– both between American and European cultures and among European cultures themselves –- many “aha moments” are waiting for Americans who seek to understand their own culture better.

It also doesn’t hurt that I have lived in Europe for a total of twelve years, have friendships and contacts there from the last 30 years, and that all the languages I speak are European languages. This greatly facilitates the tours, as I’m sure any of the participants will attest. As I said earlier, there are countless other places on this planet of ours we would like to discover and/or take others to see -- for example, we hope to organize a third-world experience for Americans in the not-too-distant future (Haiti, perhaps?) –- but much of my heart, as well as much understanding of where we have come from as a culture, lies in what for many of us is The Old Country.

Tell us about your experiences visiting the land(s) of your ancestors.

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