GeoVisions Blog

The Best 3 Minute Travel Video Ever

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Jul 14, 2014

I posted this video sometime ago, and wanted to post it again since we're in the peak travel time for most people.

"People have a love affair with adventure. We feel it inside like a current in the wind, and it drives us to step outside the ordinary."

It is a video by Grand Trunk, Goods for the Road.  You can take a look over on http://www.grandtrunkgoods.com.  Before you do, take 3 minutes and watch the most amazing 3 minute video about travel ever made.

And of course ... get in touch with us here at GeoVisions.  We live this video everyday. 

Tags: Travel Is Transforming, Make Something Happen

At GeoVisions We Don't Save Lives

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Jun 04, 2014

Clinic Medical School Brigade1 resized 600Our CEO, Kevin Morgan, sometimes has to remind us that, "We're not saving lives here."  And this typically comes up when someone is taking what we do too seriously.

Now, there isn't anything wrong with taking travel and cultural exchange seriously.  In fact, that's a good thing.

But sometimes we obsess on why someone we've been talking to for 3 months decides not to take the jump and do a GeoVisions program ... or, chooses another organization.  sometimes we get grouchy when a participant calls from overseas and is having an issue with a host parent ... but they end the call with, "Please don't tell them I called you."  Well, how can we help, then?

GeoVisions was founded, ultimately, as a place where people can have fun.  We try to create an atmosphere where staff can come to work (no matter how busy or stressed they are) and have fun doing good work.  We create programs where our participants can have fun meeting and exceeding their goals.  We always try to provide home stay exchanges whereby a host family in another country will have fun with a GeoVisions volunteer living with them.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with savings lives.  It's just that we're not doing it here.  And that isn't why we exist.

I am attending a conference in Berkeley, CA for two-days at the GoOverseas.com offices.  One of the speakers today asked one of the founders of GoOverseas why he founded the search engine.  Mitch replied quickly and definitively ... "I wanted GoOverseas to be the Yelp for overseas programs."  It's the first time I ever heard Mitch put it that way.  I liked it.

We started GeoVisions to have fun exchanging our culture with other cultures.  It never came up that we'd save lives or save the world.  And honestly?  We don't exist to change the world.  That kind of presumes we know how the world should be.  And we don't.  We are happy taking responsibility for making sure we give all of our participants a platform in which they can meet and exceed their goals, exchange their culture with other cultures, meet and live like locals and have fun doing it.  Period.  Full stop.

Is it hard teaching or tutoring English?  Sure.  Can you laugh out loud teaching "four," "fore," and "for?"  We hope so.

Smiles do not need translation.

Tags: Travel Is Transforming, Working For A Better World, Why You Matter

I Do This Because Of An Italian Jacket

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Jun 02, 2014

I was a high school English teacher from 1972 to 1979 ... in Kansas.

In 1974 I saw a film from AIFS (The American Institute For Foreign Study) that I showed to my classes, which eventually changed many lives.  You can see a brief clip here from an old 16mm film.  The school board met and decided I would not be allowed to take students to Europe because they didn't want to upset families who couldn't afford such a trip.

1976 Lodging

Never a teacher to let the Board of Education decide my fate, the following year, in 1975, I rented a room in the local bank and I held meetings there.  In my first year I took 13 students to five countries for 30-days.  I did that every year from 1975 through 1979, ending with 80 students, five countries, 30-days.  I joined AIFS full time in 1979 and headed to Greenwich, Connecticut from the classroom in Kansas.

But the point of this particular story is what motivated me to do this in the first place, and to make it my career for the last 39 years. It boils down to a jacket bought in Florence, Italy.

The AIFS film I showed in all my classes is one thing.  That got everyone excited to travel abroad for the month of July through Greece, Italy, Austria, France and England.  We designed our itinerary, held meetings, invited parents and the thing just took on a life of it's own.

During that first year our group was visited by a young man who worked for AIFS and he came to one of our meetings.  That, of course, gave our group another shot in the arm and it went a long way for the parents to see that AIFS would send someone to a meeting and it gave AIFS and me a lot of credibility.

When that young man walked through the door, he brought fresh air with him.  And he wore a stunning (for 1975) leather Italian jacket and he had a beard and long hair.  And I loved that jacket.  During the meeting he told everyone he had just flown in from Italy where he had attended an AIFS staff meeting in Rome and he took some time to sit atop Palatine Hill where he overlooked the Roman Forum and contemplated the value of student educational travel.  And then he went to Florence to see a group of teachers and students and he bought the jacket he was wearing at a leather shop in Florence.

I was a guy who had grown up in the farmland of Oklahoma.  I was teaching in very rural Kansas.  Having a job like his was unthinkable.  Well, it was totally unimaginable for someone like me.  What?  You get paid to fly around the world, sitting atop ancient hills, taking notes while looking out upon ruins, and you make enough money to buy a leather jacket IN Italy?  Get out!

I decided at that moment I was going to get a job like that.  There was no question that I would do whatever it took to have a job exactly like his.  It's all I thought about from that point on.

You should not be surprised to read that our group formed and we left for Greece.  We went to Rome and yes, we drove to Florence and stayed there 2 nights.  I broke away from the group, found the shop and I bought a jacket exactly like the AIFS rep's jacket.  Although it was very hot in Florence, Italy in July 1976 ... I had my Bicentennial Passport and I wore that new jacket.  Sweat took on a new meaning but I had wrapped myself, literally, in my future.

By the time we got to London 2 weeks later I had started a beard.

In the summers of 1977, 1978 and 1979 I did this each time but with far more than 13 students.  I wore my Italian jacket to meetings, I grew out my hair and had a pony tail.  In 1979 we needed two, forty-passenger coaches to hold everyone.  And before we left for Greece I got a call from the President of AIFS ... Hank Kahn ... and he wanted to fly out to that odd state with lots of high school students who travel to Europe and meet me in person.  He couldn't understand how I could recruit that many high school students in Kansas to follow me to Europe for a month.

By the time he flew back to Connecticut a day later, he had offered me a full time job.  In Greenwich, Connecticut.  For twice what I was making as a teacher.  In September of 1979, I left classroom teaching where I was making $8,600 a year and stepped onto the platform of international educational exchange for $19,000 a year, and oh yes ... he threw in $1,500 of moving expenses.  I had never seen so much money.

Italian jackets from Florence

I have lived my dream for 39 years.  Even today at almost 65 years of age, I still wake up and start my day knowing I followed my passion.  I love my work.  I love everything about it.  It is what I think about when my eyes open, and it is the last thing I am thinking about when my eyes close at night and my days are never done.  I still keep in touch with students who traveled with me all those years ago.

There are times I miss the classroom.  And then there's last March when I walked through the Roman Forum, looked over at Palatine Hill and smiled.  I took out my notebook and jotted a few things down.

Tags: Travel Is Transforming, Make Something Happen, Randy LeGrant

What Is Your Ultimate Travel Destination?

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Thu, Nov 21, 2013

travel mapWhere do you want to go?  Where have you been?  Have you read 1,000 Places To See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz?  Did you find yourself adding destinations of your own?

I just looked at my profile over on Where I've Been, and I was shocked to see that I've only been to 8% of the world.  I'd think on my bucket list would be a goal of 20%.  And even then ... to see only 20% of the planet on which I live?  How disappointing.

I was fascinated to read a post on National Geographic entitiled The Ultimate Travel Destination: Home.  In the post by Robert Reid of Reid on Travel in Travel with Heart on October 11, 2013, he makes a case that the ultimate destination is ... home.

Of course, I find it very cool that Mr. Reid is from my home state of Oklahoma.  Tulsa to be exact, where I'm going to be spending my Thanksgiving week.

As Alain de Botton put it in The Art of Travel“The pleasure we derive from journey is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.”  Reid goes on further to write, "That’s a mindset that can only form abroad – like a muscle built from exercise — and that finds its greatest purpose once back home."

Read more from the original post...

What do you think?  Do you agree that the ultimate travel destination is home?  What is home, exactly?  What is your ultimate travel destination?

Tags: Travel Ideas, Travel Is Transforming, Destinations