April 28, 2014 |
Twenty-nine years ago, in 1985, I traveled to Mekele, Ethiopia, for a six-month stay under the auspices of an African relief agency to participate in famine relief. It proved to be my most life-changing experience. We lived in Haile Selassie's empty summer castle, commuted by truck to the famine camps, and worked alongside other international groups inoculating, feeding, and hydrating the thousands displaced and affected by the ongoing drought. Life-changing, heartwarming, moving. rewarding only begin to express the experience.
April 21, 2014 |
They told Donna Gilbert the person whose head was wrapped in bandages and whose body was a crush of broken bones was her daughter. But there was no way Gilbert could tell from looking at her, so swollen and bruised was her face. It was only after she checked for her daughter's butterfly tattoo on a thigh that she was sure. "He [the doctor] said 'Prepare yourself for the worst,' " Gilbert recalled. "I kept shaking my head and saying, 'No, this isn't my daughter.' "So we pulled the sheet up and saw the tattoo and that was it. " Hours earlier, Gilbert's daughter, Jacqueline, had been flown by medevac helicopter from Chambersburg in Southeastern Pennsylvania to the Hershey Medical Center after her 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt veered off northbound Route 11, slid on its side, and smashed into a utility pole.
April 20, 2014 |
For my son's high school graduation gift, I decided we would travel to Africa. When we vacationed together in the past, we visited national parks in the United States and Central America because we wanted to experience wildlife in its natural habitats. What better way to culminate our adventures than a safari in Africa? The planning began. I desired a remote setting in a safe and progressive country that respected its natural treasures and worked diligently to protect them. Also, I longed for a camping experience where we lived in tents and ate outside by a wood fire.
April 14, 2014 |
It was December 2013 when my plane dropped from the sky. We collectively clenched, wondering if our seat cushions really floated, and slammed down onto what I hoped was the runway. The pilot's voice filled the cabin. "We made it!" The woman next to me squeezed my hand and I thought, "Were we not supposed to?" When we passed several goats penned alongside the runway, I realized this was just how one landed on the tiny island of Grenada. Grenada is in the southeastern Caribbean Sea, about 90 miles off the coast of Venezuela.
April 7, 2014 |
About three years ago, I was living my cushy lifestyle in Washington, without a thought of leaving. I had an amazing group of friends, a job and colleagues I adored, and a beautiful apartment in a perfect location on Connecticut Avenue. My now-husband, then-boyfriend, suddenly changed my entire life in one day. He explained that he had been offered a position with his company in Jakarta, Indonesia, and that he simply couldn't pass it up. He urged me to join him, but respected my wishes either way with a positive attitude of "we will make it work no matter what.
March 31, 2014 |
The stage was set. A temporary, state-of-the-art, 50-meter pool by Myrtha would serve as the competition arena in Omaha, Neb., where 1,257 swimmers would descend upon the CenturyLink Center over four days in July 2012, mixing their sweat and tears into the million gallons of water enclosed by tons of stainless steel. America's swimming sweetheart, Natalie Coughlin, would already be gone, gearing up for the Summer Olympics in London that month. Michael Phelps, arguably the greatest swimmer of all time, would have stripped off his tech suit and finally come up for air after an intense seven-event program.
March 24, 2014 |
When my husband and I determined that staying in the country was the most logical option for our fall 2013 honeymoon, Ocracoke Island, N.C., was always the top contender on our list of possible locations. One of the least-visited and least-populated barrier islands of the Outer Banks and part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke is just over an eight-hour drive from our home in Philadelphia and has several rental cottages available. Summer weather lasts well into October, and with several access points for pedestrians and vehicles, beach space is plentiful.
March 17, 2014 |
At the end of July I had the unexpected pleasure of taking a river cruise in Russia with a friend. This was exciting - my mother was from Zvenyhorodka, a town north of Kiev in the Ukraine, my father from a suburb south of Kiev. The cruise started out in St. Petersburg and wound up in Moscow. On a scheduled bus trip in Moscow, we went to the Museum of the Jewish History in Russia, the only Jewish museum and Holocaust memorial in the country. When we got to the museum, the men were laying tefillin - wearing black boxes on their foreheads containing verses from the Torah that serve as a reminder of God's intervention during the Exodus from Egypt - so we were ushered upstairs to the balcony for the service.
March 12, 2014 |
It's a love letter to her hometown of Cádiz, Spain. As a highlight of the 2014 Philadelphia Flamenco Festival, Rosario Toledo presented Vengo (Coming Back) Sunday night in the Forum space at WHYY's building on Independence Mall. The intimate setting became a theater in the round, with the artist just a few feet away from the overflow audience. Toledo's half-hour performance piece (assisted by the wonderfully deadpan Salva Calderón) highlighted her physical fearlessness, expert flamenco technique, and brilliant comedic timing.
March 10, 2014 |
Black, white, pink . . . I just wanted to see smoke. It was March 13, 2013. I was in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City awaiting smoke, smoke that would signal a new pope, or no new pope, or, maybe, a colorful statement by Catholic women protesters. Little had I imagined four months earlier when I booked my first Road Scholar trip that a pope would resign in February, and then a conclave would convene, and then the eyes of the world would be on the Eternal City the very week I was there.