One of my very favorite quotes, from Meister Eckhart, is this:
If the only prayer you say in your entire life is ‘Thank You,’ that would suffice.
As I sit here at my kitchen table, in my small house in Hiroshima, Japan, I struggle to begin writing about my five weeks in Europe. It was such a big experience for me, in so many ways, that sharing it in some orderly fashion feels overwhelming.
So, rather than one long post, let me write a series of shorter reflections.
And let me start my reflections by stressing those two simple words…
Above all, I’m deeply thankful for having had this opportunity to visit a variety of marvelous places, to spend time with a number of lovely families (and play with the adorable kids), and to hear the parents’ heartfelt stories about raising bilingual and multilingual children.
Honestly, it all felt like a dream while it was happening—and now, back in Japan, in a familiar old routine, it feels even more like a dream.
Did I actually meet all these people that I had become friends with through my work online over the past seven years?
Did I really stay with 10 different families, families that welcomed me into their homes as I traveled from place to place?
Did I truly see all those incredible sights in all those splendid places, from major cities to small towns in the countryside? (Prior to this trip, I had only spent time in the Czech Republic so almost all my destinations were new to me.)
I scroll through the hundreds of photos on my phone and see that, yes, it’s true. I was there. For 38 days I was out in the world, savoring the excitement of fresh adventures and the joy of precious encounters with other bilingual and multilingual families.
I’ll share more pictures in subsequent posts, but here’s a sampling of memories from the whole journey, from London to Rome. (And please note: I’m only sharing certain photos of families because some families prefer that I not post images of them online, a request I will respect.)
England (London, Leicester, Newark)
My very first homestay was with Alex Nicoletti and her family in Leicester. Alex is the creative force behind Lil’ollo, which makes beautiful, useful products for bilingual and multilingual families.
In Newark, I stayed with Izabela Olendzki and her family. They run a bookstore that distributes educational materials in Polish throughout the UK and Europe. The big news is that they’re now also working on a Polish translation of my book Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability!
They also kindly organized a talk that I gave in Newark.
France (Villers-Cotterets, Paris)
The Netherlands (Amsterdam)
There’s a bakery in Copenhagen that was begun by the children of a Japanese man from Hiroshima who opened a successful bakery business in Hiroshima after he learned to bake bread in Copenhagen! In other words, this bakery in Copenhagen is actually the spin-off of a bakery in Hiroshima, but was originally inspired by Copenhagen! (It’s called “Andersen” after the famous fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen.)
Poland (Krakow, Zagnansk, Auschwitz)
The Czech Republic (Prague)
To everyone who helped make this dream a reality, in ways large and small, I thank you. It was an experience that will always be one of the highlights of my life.
(And remember, it isn’t too late to join me. Your support at Patreon will continue to be welcomed and valued.)