My 5 Weeks of Culture Travel

This is a story about personal development and deep mindset transformation. This is about my most recent travel experience and an introduction to the new Fun Museums blog design and concept.

I’m returning to my writing after some time, and there are several reasons why I was not writing new stories. First of all, when I made the decision to go to the Global Village, I became involved in preparations, not only for that trip but also for several new projects in my business that started in April-May. While the Global Village is an intensive program that requires 24 hours per day of a participant’s time, I was more concentrated on getting enough pictures of places and feedback about all my ideas for museums from my fellow Villagers.

My first trip outside Europe

I have always considered myself a traveler, because I love to travel anywhere, at least to a beautiful beach, forest, mountain or a village next to my place. Every experience of movement is valuable, unique and unforgettable. I have also visited more than 20 European countries, reaching even the Northernmost points of Europe. But in June this year, it was the first time I really left Europe and went to – America. I was in the USA, where I stayed in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, for 5 weeks.

Although I was at that particular place, the feeling was almost like traveling the whole world because I attended the Global Village for Future Leaders of Business and Industry, a summer program attended by people from 43 countries around the world. I made my decision about attending this program in March, and then I took all the necessary procedures; budgets, visa, flights, research.

When I arrived in Philadelphia, I had another hard task – find a bus to get to the Lehigh Valley. Sure, I could come into Newark and have easier transportation, but okay. I immediately noticed that in America it’s easier to get around the cities and that you can always ask someone on the street for directions or advice, Americans are a helpful nation. Hmm… Nations? Stereotypes?

Hmm… Nations? Stereotypes? Positive stereotypes? At that moment I was in the beginning of a 5-weeks period of learning about these issues. I got 88 new friends plus several friends from the organization team (including guides-mentors), beautiful people from Puerto Rico, Peru, Spain, France, Germany, UAE, Kyrgyzstan, China, Italy, Russia, UK, USA, Sweden, Portugal, Indonesia, Japan… in total, 44 countries. The whole program is intended to create global leaders, people who will know and understand different cultures.

What does Global Village consist of?

Jet lag. When I finally took a bus, it was 9.30 pm. Don’t forget that on that day I woke up at 5am in Croatia, in Central Europe, while now it was 9.30pm at the East Coast. My mind was still perceiving time as it was the European hour so I was feeling like 3.30 am. Hurray!

The bus was a bit late. 20 minutes. I arrived in the city of Bethlehem, in the green heart of Pennsylvania, at about 10.30, and I still had to get my transportation to the campus. I did some confusion because I did not clarify my travel plans, and while the bus was late no one was really sure if I took that bus. Never mind, I was in my bed at about 2am, thinking that it was 8am.

The campus of the Lehigh University is situated on the hills and has thousands, and thousands, of stairs 😀

Stairs at the Lehigh Campus
We all got stronger legs! 😀
Rauch Business Center, Lehigh University
Above the place where we had classes and workshops.
View from a room at Lehigh Campus
View from my room 😀 Oh, I miss that…

Groups & Teams

Global Village is not an ordinary school. In ordinary school (even summer school or any other kind of short-term education), participants start meeting each other, they find who like feel comfortable with and make friendships with a selected group of people. During the Global Village, participants are encouraged and even forced, I mean forced in a positive way, to meet every participant and become friends with every participant.

There are several kinds of groups and teams we were being involved in during the program, so at every workshop, class, and activity, we had different people to talk with.

We had a speed networking session, during which we created a “carrousel”, introducing ourselves withing the 30 seconds of elevator pitch time to each person of the opposite line in this “carrousel”.

Speed Networking
This experience was so fun!
Speed Networking
Beautiful Summer Evening and great activities…

Culture Nights and Country Presentations

Maybe patriotism is not a topic here since frequent travelers are usually not the greatest experts for that emotion. However, we love to talk  about the places we come from, appreciate them, feel about our own culture as our identity. We also need to attract people to come to our countries, as travelers or, who knows, investors.

In the beginning of the whole program, we had an opening gala when we were encouraged to wear our national/traditional clothes. During that evening, we danced and took many pictures-selfies (how is it possible??), and we were learning about each other. I will be honest and say – only after experiencing these moments I can say that I became a real heritage&culture traveler.

Culture nights were special moments when we cooked typical food from our countries and tried to show as much as possible about our origins. Well, I’m not talented for singing at all (laugh) and I have never learned Croatian dances, so unfortunately, I was unable to show Croatian rich musical and dance heritage! Maybe I can try learning something new, for future opportunities!

Me and my new friend from Gaza
During the opening gala, with Basil, a 21-years-old startup guy from Gaza!

But I cooked. Successfully. Dealing with American measure units – pounds, lbs, degrees Fahrenheit. That was sooo exciting. And very fun, like every other particular moment during the GV. Culture nights were real party moments.

Country presentations were a different challenge. Let’s say, a business challenge – how to sell your country’s resources to investors? I mean, investors who will create jobs, new values, anything that is necessary. Villagers learned to show why people should invest in their countries, and what are the most notable obstacles. Of course, I said that Croatia is a paradise for people who want to revive the historical buildings and transform them into the centers of knowledge economy and creative economy 😀

I wasn’t fun enough on that presentation, my bad. I forgot to include a very characteristic part of Croatian culture – coffee drinking on beautiful terraces and comfortable armchairs – and suggest investors to invite their Croatian partners to come for a coffee and make a deal. I did not remember to do so!

Villager Led Sessions

How to talk with animals? Adapt agriculture to climate change? What about feminism? How to unhide your ideas? The Art of Debate. Educational patterns and schooling in Rural Peru. Škoda Auto Case Study. I mentioned just some (the ones I remembered now in these 5 minutes) of the Villager Led Session. Each participant-Villager could apply for a session about his or her own expertise and experience. My session was…

Museums in Service of Social Development

…and the session was pretty successful. Participants were asked to (re)think museums and suggest how museums can work in service of social development. As I expected, the best way for museums to work in service of social development is – to be fun!

By attending some other Villager Led Sessions, I learned so many things. The fact that I learned it from my colleagues made the whole experience much more wonderful.

I hope to create more selfies with participants of this kind of workshop.

Museums in Service of Social Development
With people from China, Italy, UAE and Thailand, in Bethlehem, PA, USA.

Trips to Philadelphia, New York, and Washington DC

I’m working on more articles describing exactly each of these cities, but I’ll tell you one thing – I will have to go again to the USA to see these cities better! This time, I just had a few days for that, and I’m happy that I had an opportunity to walk on the streets, try some authentic restaurants, feel the spirit and go to a few museums.

My fellow villagers made it perfect. I received some valuable feedback from them, about my whole “museum project”. Only once I went alone to some place, and it was in New York. I even regret that, because I got lost and I was feeling really lost in that exciting city 😀

Villagers in New York
I miss these people so much 🙁

What is next?

Now I became a real heritage&culture traveler. I will always be looking forward to meeting Villagers all around the world when I visit their countries and have a more fulfilling experience of meeting their heritage and culture. They will enrich this blog as well.

Is it possible to join the Global Village? 😀

Of course, dear reader. Global Village happens every summer. Just visit the Lehigh University website for more information 🙂

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