When I was growing up, I knew I’d become a world traveler, my passport stamped with all sorts of exotic ink. I’d dine in capitals around the globe and have mad adventures from jungle to mountaintop to desert.
As life developed, of course, my mad adventures took a sharp turn toward the odd, and I’ve never embarked on that long-imagined journey. At least in real life. Instead, we reach for a taste of foreign flavor each night as we have dinner in a different country.
A large, detailed world map graces the door to the kitchen at kid-height, its bright colors appealing to the eye. Tour guide duty passes from one family member to the next. Our escort for the evening displays the location of the country, its flag, a map, and shares as much as he or she wants to about important country statistics such as capital, products exported, name of the leader, neighboring countries, and so on. We gather this information from books around the house or online sites such as Factmonster.com where information is kid-friendly, which suits our group. Other sites such as Wikipedia or the CIA’s page might be appropriate for older children and adults.
The magic we’ve discovered in this picaresque expedition is that Little Miss, despite her language drawbacks, has become a whiz at locating countries. In third grade, she knows half a dozen in Africa, a dozen throughout the Americas, and can still remember after months, details about the countries that she presented, right down to the roller coaster on the ocean in China and the weird and wacky animals of Australia. At a time when most American high school graduates can’t even find cities in their own country, I think that’s something pretty special.
As for the rest of you? Get a map, whether for your neighborhood, your world or the cosmos. Set your course. How does that saying go? “Second star to the right, and straight on till morning.” Bon voyage!