Welcome, Randy! Tell us a bit about your background.
Randy: I was born in Colorado in the USA. As a kid, I lived in Washington DC, Chicago, and then moved to Argentina at 3 (Spanish is my FIRST second language!), New Zealand at 9, Peru at 11, UK at 13, France at 21, USA at 22, then Australia (where I now live) at 23.
I switched my career from journalism-advertising-activism to high-school teaching four years ago (at 49!). I am currently teaching at a Victorian State girls’ school: English and Humanities. I will teach French, English, and Humanities next year.
TT: Wowza! What a life! What were some episodes of those travels that you particularly loved?
R: My wife took me to Thailand 8 years ago… which was a revelation. I loved the people, the sights, and the FOOD! I have also visited Borneo (wild!), spent 18 months in New Zealand again, visited China (Xiamen and Hong Kong), returned to the US frequently, and travelled widely around Australia.
TT: Awesome. How do you find these travel opportunities?
R: Sheer good luck! I traveled as a child because my Father was an international marketing executive. Later, I followed a girlfriend to Australia. I went to Paris when I couldn’t find work in the UK, and to Borneo by accident when Indonesia and Australia were feuding. I’ve always had the philosophy: “Try anything once!”
R: I’ve always saved, and made travel a priority. I would live in a far bigger house (or houses) and drive a far fancier car (or cars) today, and have a far bigger pension fund… except I traveled, and dragged my kids along, too!
Plus, I’ve always stayed at guesthouses, lodges, hostels, and “backpackers,” even as an adult. And I’ve always eaten at street markets, picked up meals from supermarkets, etc.
TT: Nice! Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.
R: For sure, watching giant turtles laying eggs at midnight on a beach on the Sulu Sea north of Borneo… while several miles away Muslim separatists were kidnapping European divers from a resort. An interesting ecological-geopolitical mosaic moment!
TT: I’ll say! How have your travels impacted you as a teacher?
R: Because of my voyages, I bring a real international perspective to my teaching, and an understanding of languages, cultures, experiences, rhythms, rhymes, classes, clans, sects, castes, tastes, means (or lack of), luck (or lack of), and responsibility to humankind and the environment.
TT: How have your travels impacted you as a person?
R: Totally. I am no longer at home in my own country. But I am comfortable in my skin just about anywhere else!
TT: What advice do you have for other teachers who are dreaming of travel?
R: Put your hand up!
Take a risk (particularly when you’re young, footloose and fancy free)!
Let people know what you dream about, because you never know, they might be a genie. It’s happened to me!
And then, when you mature, stay young, drag your family around with you, teach them languages, feed them strange foods, cook together, invite strangers with funny accents over for dinner, buy a cheaper car, a smaller house…
TT: Thanks so much, Randy, for the inspiration, for the words of wisdom, and for giving me a painful craving for Thai street food.