If ‘Home is where the heart is’, mine keeps growing.

Delores E. Topliff

“There’s a Tibetan saying: “Wherever you have friends, that’s your country, and wherever you receive love, that’s your home.”

In my life, many valued ongoing friendships result from my many years of teaching high school and college in various places. A friend of mine made a list, and found that during that time, truly over 100 mostly young people have lived in my home while pursuing educations.

When people from North America or any nation live in your home for one to three years, sometimes with their parents or other relatives also visiting, amazing and meaningful relationships form and we become extended family. That makes me unusually rich in widespread relationships that have given me opportunities to visit their homes and enjoy bird’s eye views of their homes and homelands.

I’ve just returned from 34 never-to-be-forgotten amazing days in Denmark, Spain, Ireland, and Scotland. Many of my friends are openly jealous, but these connections have grown deeper and even more precious beyond the initial years of our times together. You don’t have to master the language to have a good time, though all efforts are appreciated. There are 5-year-old boy and girl twins in Denmark I do antics for, and they giggle every time and easily communicate they want more. I loved being invited into multiple homes near Madrid and Seville, Spain, where one dinner was served at 10:30 p.m. after a day that reached 42 C or 107.6 F degrees. Respect and understanding grows even deeper with each time together and continues long after I board a train or plane for the next place. I spoke with a friend yesterday who is considering housing a foreign student; of course, my unqualified recommendation was ‘yes’.

The only downside to such travel experiences is that the more often you enjoy close times together, the more you miss those visited after your return. Of course my door is also wide open for them their visits anytime possible.

Meanwhile, long live air miles and patiently-researched airline seat sales. Long live friendships that are warm and close whilel we laugh at minor cultural differences and enjoy each other whether or not we agree on political viewpoints or other minor differences. So much more unites us than will ever divide us. I recommend travel opportunities and exchanges to anyone who can manage them, and am forever thankful for the rich experiences that so far are mine.

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