“Yet one of the subtler beauties of travel is that it enables you to bring new eyes to the people you encounter. Thus even as holidays help you appreciate your own home more — not least by seeing it through a distant admirer’s eyes — they help you bring newly appreciative — distant — eyes to the places you visit. You can teach them what they have to celebrate as much as you celebrate what they have to teach.”
My name is Jennifer Pelletier, and I am in my third year of teaching and second year at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, CT. I grew up in Ontario, Canada and moved down to Connecticut for college eight years ago. I have always loved traveling, and in my younger years, I used competitive sport (squash) as an excuse to visit different areas of the globe. Throughout these experiences and travels, my options for food, exploration etc were rather limited since I was there to compete and that had to be the priority. This meant that I was spending weeks in amazing places like Chennai, India without actually experiencing India. I ate my meals (always margarita pizza since it was one of the few cooked meals that was offered) from the hotel, and rarely had time to explore surrounding temples, schools, restaurants etc. After college, I decided that I was tired of ‘traveling’ without ever actually visiting and experiencing. Ever since, no matter the reason for my travel, I always ensure to make time to immerse myself into the new culture and people. My favorite type of travel is home stay, where you learn much more quickly about a people and their lifestyles in comparison with reading about them from a book. I become a different, freer version of myself when I am not buried under deadlines and emails, or surrounded by social media, television etc. One of my favorite experiences in recent years was a volunteer trip to Ghana where we were staying in a compound with the group of students that we were working with. There was no electricity, or running water. No tvs, laptops, or outlets to charge the phones we did not have service on. I have never felt more free than those two weeks where we spent our spare time playing soccer with the kids, talking, or making up games while the sun went down. It was difficult to try to explain this to the locals, who were shocked when I told them that I prefered a life without all the technology and gadgets that make life ‘easier’ (and understandably so since none of their lives had ever been easy from birth, as mine had). When I returned home, I vowed never to fall back into my old patterns of turning to television or social media when I wanted to take a break or ‘de-stress’. Turns out, that is waaay easier said than done. When I am home, I am the teacher who has to be available in the dorm and over email 24hrs a day, seven days a week. And so I am taking this incredible opportunity to dive head first into Indonesian culture to find that freer Jenn, while learning some stuff and making friends along the way. Excited to meet you all so soon!