Walking the Sea

Walking the Sea: March 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

European Speaking Adventure - Answering Your Questions

Nine days. 216 hours until I step onto a flight bound for London. This blog is about to get a lot more interesting.

Many have asked if I’m excited to go. I am excited. I am excited to see my friends who are from Europe, excited to get to know them better, and excited to get to know many new friends who are Friends. But right now, I am still swimming in the planning stages, trying to take care of those little details that I’ll need in place before I go and taking care of all the things needing to be done here at home before I am able to leave. Needless to say, my nights have been late and my mornings early. But I am looking forward to sharing my passions with Friends across the sea.

To help answer questions of people who haven’t been able to ask them in person, I thought I would take some time to answer the most frequently asked ones as my first post.

When are you leaving?
I am leaving on the morning of Friday, April 8th to arrive in London on the morning of April 9th. I return late in the evening on Tuesday, May 17th. I am gone for a total of 5½ weeks.

Why are you going?
Last fall I was invited to take part in the annual conference of Quakers Uniting in Publications, the group that co-sponsored the Quaker Youth Book Project, to release Spirit Rising in the UK with my fellow editorial board member, Harriet Hart, and to speak on a poetry panel. Since going to the UK is such a big trip from the West Coast of the United States, I contacted several friends and their meetings to ask if they would like me to come talk about the book. The response was so enthusiastic that the trip quickly elongated to the current 5½ week itinerary.

What countries are you visiting?
England, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and France. A day-by-day itinerary will be posted before I go.

Have you been there before?
I have never been to the European continent before, at least not outside of the airport in Amsterdam. I did visit the British Isles in 2001 for five weeks including Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, England, Wales, and Scotland. For the most part, I am going to entirely different places this time around.

Will you be blogging while you’re gone?
Yes! I am looking forward to posting videos and pictures while I’m gone in addition to sharing my experiences with you through words. In addition to my blog, I will also be posting for The Friends Journal on their website as well as writing two articles for them when I return. To help me with the blogging and photo archiving, The Friends Journal is sending me a Nikon Coolpix to borrow and take with me on the trip.

Are you going with someone?
Yes and no. I am traveling on my own from place to place but will be staying with Quaker friends nearly the entire time. They will be going with me to the talks and acting as elders and cultural translators. On a few of the train trips, a friend will even be traveling with me.

Aren’t you nervous traveling on your own?
No, I am not. Europe is generally a very safe to travel and I have traveled before on my own, in England and Kenya as well as in the United States. Many people speak English there and I will enjoy the cultural experience when they don’t.

Where are you staying?
For the most part, I am staying with friends I have traveled with in Kenya and with participants of the 2010 Quaker Youth Pilgrimage to whom I spoke last summer. For two nights, I am staying at Swarthmoor Hall, a famous Quaker historical site that is now a bed and breakfast up in the north of England for some rest in the midst of all the traveling.

How are you paying for it?
Grants are paying for the majority of the trip including transportation, food, lodging, and my living expenses while I’m gone, among other things, to enable me to publicize the book and talk about writing. These grants include the Obadiah Brown Fund, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s International Outreach Grant, Northwest Yearly Meeting’s Youth Opportunity Grant, the Margaret Fell Fund, and generous contributions from The Friends Journal and a few personal friends. I am paying for everything else including any entertainment I partake of while there.

What are you taking with you?
Not much. I am of the persuasion it is best to travel light, easier to get from place to place and less to keep track of, so I like going with one backpack for all my belongings and a day pack to take with me when I go out. This is very doable. I have traveled in this way to the British Isles for five weeks in 2001 and three weeks in Kenya in 2009. I get better at it every time. It is the best way to travel.

What are you looking forward to?
The highlight list is extensive as you can imagine. Besides the obvious highlights of seeing friends, here are some experiences I am really excited about:
• Leading the workshop “Writing as the Authentic Self” at the QUIP conference.
• Meeting Friends from around Europe and the Middle East in Switzerland.
• Attending musicals in London’s West End. (I’m a musical nut!)
• Walking in reverence and awe at St. Paul’s.
• Touring the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
• Punting in the canals of Cambridge.
• Speaking on the poetry panel at the QUIP Conference.
• Exploring the Louvre in Paris.
• Climbing Pendle Hill.
• Visiting the Bronte Museum in the village of Hayworth.
• Seeing the bells of Notre Dame.

Thank you all for your encouragement and traveling advice as I have readied for this European Speaking Adventure! I am grateful to have you as my community near and far.

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