Geographic Movement: Heritage Travel

Greetings, fellow wannabes! Sadly, our "queen be" ran into technical difficulties on her trip to Illinois. She asked me if I would fill in for her tonight and Friday, and I just couldn't resist the opportunity for shameless self-promotion. 

Trust me, I know that when you enter a space expecting to find the original, genuine Wannabe and find someone else instead, the result is a special brand of cognitive dissonance. With that in mind, I thought I would help you to ease the transition with a little riddle:

What does hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco have to do with tonight's theme of Heritage Travel? 

Read on to find out!

In preparing for the upcoming year of geography instruction (my day job), I have been thinking a lot about the theme of movement. It refers to the migration of goods, people, and ideas around the world. Heritage travel is a good example. 

As recently as this past March, Fodor's Travel Intelligence blog discussed Heritage trips as a chance to dig through archives and find your relatives' records in their hometowns abroad. If you're interested, you can find the article here. In my former guise as an overseas study advisor, however, I remember hearing about the emergence of heritage travel as early as the 1950s and 60s. Visiting a certain country, town, or even cemetary where one's ancestors once lived and died was gaining popularity, especially to three specific destinations (if the travelers were U.S. nationals): Ireland, Israel, and the continent of Africa. 

Those among us who subscribe to Tolkien's iconic advice that, "not all those who wander are lost" often begin our travel careers, knowingly or not, as heritage travel. Krista and I, for example, both began our addictions to international trips in Europe. It makes sense to start someplace familiar. Especially when the language, food, and mores of a destination are different from what we are used to, having a sense of personal historical connection to a place can be a comfort in a new environment. 

From there, we wanderer-wannabes often gain the confidence to strike out on other journeys. Again, both Krista and I took our second travel steps into Latin America. In discussing the theme, Krista texted about her high school trip to Mexico: "It was the first time I had seen poverty at that level and it wiped me out." It used to be easy for me to say that my 2008 trip to Guatemala to serve as a teaching consultant, "damaged me. Permanently." I'm still trying to make sense of my experience there; these days, I prefer "changed" to "damaged." 

Would we have had the insight and courage to have faced extreme situations of inequity if we hadn't gotten our feet wet first somewhere closer to "home?" 

Some people are content to stay one place. Even the most itchy-footed among us could doubtless spend an entire lifetime just discovering the U.S. But for me, domestic travel wasn't something that interested me until after I'd done some international heritage-seeking. For some, heritage starts at home and subsequently sparks an interest in the world beyond, which I would argue that, for all of its serious flaws and inequities, is still a wide, bright place. 

Tonight, Krista is experiencing a place of deep cultural significance for her. Even though she is within U.S. borders, she has embarked on a heritage trip. Par for the course, her inability to post tonight resulted in cognitive dissonance. Luckily for us, cognitive dissonance is a process that which, if embraced, helps us grow as people. Once we have processed our heritage journeys, we strike out again to continue our valuable exchange of ideas. 

Do you know yet what Lupe Fiasco has to do with anything?

If you're still reading this long, wordy post at this point, I'll let you off the hook. 

In his song, "Til I Get There," Lupe sings, "If you are afraid or fear that you're going to change, son, all you have to do is just...

...remember where you came from."

Special congratulations to groom Scott Boivie for his wedding day. 

About the Guest Blogger: Tiffany L. Hendrix, or "GeoTrix" for her Single Girl's Guide to Impending Apocalypse blog, has published articles and essays in Transitions Abroad magazine, Abroad View magazine and Secret Sisters (Freeman and Windmeyer, eds.). She also currently acts as a travel contributor for experts123.comShe apologizes for her liberal use of the term "cognitive dissonance" in this post. You may follow this Las Vegas-based wannabe on twitter @OriginalGeoTrix. 

Krista BoivieComment