The Changing Power of Travel

steph_staffessay

Owned by Jason Christensen.

In Lewis Carroll’s well-known tale Alice in Wonderland, Alice comes across many fascinating creatures and odd happenings. Toward the end of her adventures, Alice comes to converse with a caterpillar and says, “I’m not myself, you see.”

 “So you think you’re changed, do you?” asks Caterpillar.

“I’m afraid I am, sir,” says Alice.

As you travel, as you leave your homes and visit new lands, new cultures, or new atmospheres, you may have many adventures and you, like Alice, will be changed.

In 2010, I left the borders of the United States for the first time to spend a few months in Chile. As I sat in the 16-plus-hour plane ride, I reflected on the things I was leaving behind—my family, my friends, my studies, my favorite restaurants. While reminiscing on all the things I would miss, I caught a glimpse of the sight out of the small window to my left. The once-dark morning sky had changed to a glorious expanse of light. I pressed my nose against the thick glass to see the sun’s rays hit the peaks of the vast mountain range. I saw rivers and lakes illuminated by the rising sun.

I could no longer remember what I was leaving behind. I could only hold in my mind the adventures to come.

When I left Chile, I wasn’t the same and the course of my life had forever changed. I chartered a new course—fresh with new perspective, sympathy, and understanding toward a different way of life. Now, I carry with me the memories and stories I gathered on my trip.

As we read the end of Carroll’s tale, we remember that Alice awakes from her dream and shares her adventures with her sister. Reflecting on Alice’s imaginations, her sister “pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the aftertime, be herself a grown woman . . . and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland.”

I hope that the stories in this issue encourage you to embark on various adventures and to experience new things. Try new recipes from this issue’s Four Corners of the Kitchen. Consider new travel destinations by reading our Getaways section. Understand new cultures and ideas in our Features articles. As you do, I hope that you don’t come back the same. Let these new experiences inspire in you an increased sympathy and understanding and a greater knowledge of the world around you. Let the places you visit, the people you meet, the culture you experience, the stories you hear—let them change you.

—Stephanie Bahr Bentley

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>