Experiencing new cultures, new geographies, new histories and new arts is a heady adventure. As I travel around the world and through America, I'm discovering new worlds and new friends. "Life is a banquet" and I'm relishing the various dishes. As I do, I'll blog about them.

This year I'm off to Europe --Ireland, England and France. I'm presenting a paper at a conference in Ireland and, since I will be over there, I decided to visit some friends. So instead of being a tourist, I'll be a visitor. And since I've been over there before, I'm hoping to see some new places and enjoy some new experiences.

Being a tourist is not my thing. Or at least not completely. Two years ago, I signed up with Road Scholar tours which was collaborating with Earthwatch on this particular trip, "On the Trail of the Giant Pandas." The trip included touring the major cities of China--Shanghai, Xian where the Terra Cotta warriors are located, and Beijing, but it also involved six days of service/field work with the giant pandas in Sichuan Province. Our small group of 11 worked in the research preserve in Bifnexia with the pandas. We actually participated in the research by  observing the pandas and recording their behavior.

I realized several years ago, after my trip to the Stans (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgystan), that while I enjoy learning about the history and arts of a country and walking through museums, mosques, madrasas and other sites, I also want to learn about the people and their culture as they live it today.  I want to get involved with them. The trip to China provided this kind of experience.

I tried to provide a different kind of blog from the many already out there about China. This one focused more on the Chinese experience, especially during my field work in Bifengxia,  and less on the sightseeing aspects. There are many links to provide that kind of information.

Since my trip to the Stans, I have travelled to Camarilla, California, where a friend leads tours of the region's wineries  and volunteers in the Reagan Library though she is a fervent Democrat. I also traveled to Hancock, New Hampshire, a wonderful small typical New England town where I had my fill of fresh lobster. Between trips I visited Galena, Illinois, in the unglaciated tri state area of northwest Illinois, southwest Wisconsin and central Iowa . You can take an ecological boat tour on the Mississippi, visit a mustard museum and buy some of the best Swiss cheese this side of Switzerland.  I'll be blogging about those places during the coming year.

As to where I'll go next, I'm not sure. Perhaps I'll return to China where my University has a collaborative agreement with one of the universities there to provide a summer training program for teachers to improve their English.

Wherever I'll be, I'll be blogging about it.

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    Carolyn Boiarsky

    " I am an American," but not "Chicago born" like Augie March. Only Chicago aged. I'd like to think that if Henry Louis Gates were to investigate my geneology, he would discover in my past three women who traveled around the globe, chronicling their adventures. Sarah Kemble Knight traveled 112 miles by carriage from Boston to New York in 1704, a journey most women did not embark on alone (and men did so only with some trepidation). In fact, women were only just beginning to exercise their independence in the 1920's when Emily Kimbrough took off with her friend, Cornelia Otis Skinner, to explore Europe. But it is Auntie Mame, transforming herself from a New Yorker to the wife of an Austrian Baron and climbing the Matterhorn, whose mantra I have adopted. "LIFE IS A BANQUET...LIVE!" I began travelling in the 1960's when I traveled around western Europe between graduating from the Univiersity of Pennsylvania and my first job as a statehouse correspondent for UPI (United Press International) in Charleston, West Virginia, which was about as foreign a place as Europe was to someone who grew up in the environs of Philadelphia. Since then, I've also traveled to Kaunas, Lithuania, to teach at Vytautus Magnus University and to Sheffield, England, to present a paper at an engineering conference. I've been to the Alps and seen Auntie Mame's Matterhorn while climbing, by a series of cable cars rather than by foot, toward the peak of Mont Blanc. For 10 years my husband and traveled to unique places: a sheep farm during lambing season in England's Lake Country, a hotel on one of the Barromeo Islands in the middle of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, and a cottage in Dun Quin on the Dingle Peninsula which the Irish claim is the last parish before Boston. Between excursions, I'm a professor in the Department of English at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana,. My husband passed away recently and, Auntie Mame-style, I am in the process of transforming myself. I've joined a tour to Central Asia and traveled to China to work with the pandas. This year I'm on my way back to Europe--Inreland, England, and France--to present a paper at a Conference and then visit friends. A new adventure. Old friends. Another banquet.

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