And I’m not just talking about The United States of America.. But all of what is known around the world as “Americas”. This summer is the first summer in 8 years that I have given my passport a rest. You don’t need a passport to travel around the United States of America. I did decide to see more of my own country however I can’t help but think of America in the greater sense of how it’s seen by the rest of the world. As a first grade teacher I instruct my students that there are 7 continents in the world. We learn about them, find them on a map, sing songs about them, and learn how to say hello in the countries that lie within their borders. If my students take anything away from our year together (aside from learning to read and write and add and subtract) I hope that it’s this knowledge about the world around them.
But it wasn’t until I started working on a cruise ship traveling to different continents and meeting people and children from all over the world that I learned that not everyone sees the world as we do. Working with children from all over the world I am always intrigued by what students are learning in their classrooms. And continental georgraphy is no exception. NOT everyone sees the world the way we do (in more ways than one). Some children grow up learning that there are 6 continents… Europe and Asia are combined and known as Eurasia. In other cultures they will tell you that there are 5 continents… Africa, Australia, Antarctica, Eurasia, and the Americas. I was beginning to wonder myself…
I’ll be honest… For a while I was a bit embarrassed about my google search history…
“What countries are technically Central America?”
“What continent is Central America a part of? ”
“What is the cutoff between North and South America?”
“Is the Caribbean a part of North or South America?”
And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still a tad confused when it comes to certain specificities. But this is also one of my favorite teachable moments to have and discuss with my students.
What I am sure of is that I have been to many cities in many countries within the Americas-North, South, and Central- and they have never disappointed.
Drinking coffee in Colombia….Sailing through the Panama Canal during the 100 year anniversary…laying on the black sand beaches of Costa Rica… Snorkeling in the Belize Barrier Reef…Taking the Maid of the Mist into the heart of Niagara Falls…Traipsing through the ruins of Tulum…Climbing on Alaksan glaciers…And swimming in countless Carribbean crystal blue waters… Not to mention my recent summer adventures driving the coast of California and Oregon, exploring all the beauty that Hawaii has to offer, and reminding myself of all that our Nation’s Capital has to appreciate- These are just a few of the adventures that the “Americas” have offered me. And while many of these places do actually require a passport, they remind me that there are just as many fantastic places in our own backyard than there are at the end of a 16 hour plane ride.