My name is Gregory, you can call me Greg.
I am currently writing to you from an extraordinarily hot day in Austin, Texas where I am taking a few days vacation to catch up with an old college friend. I have just completed leading a four-week summer course for Dragons in my new adopted home of Thailand. As I rest here briefly and reflect over the past 10+ years of guiding students internationally I am overcome with the awareness of how powerful travel can be. In the heat of this steamy summer morning, the reality of our changing climate is not lost on me, nor are the myriad privileges I have in this world where inequalities are rising as rapidly as the planets oceans and yet so often is this unseen by those who are not able to leave the, relatively speaking, narrower visions witnessed from wherever ones “home” may be. As I go through my own period of, what we call ,“reverse culture shock” (the very real and oftentimes awkward phase of returning to ones homeland after an extended journey abroad) I am all too aware of the unique times in which we live, the urgency of now. The memories of what I have seen and experienced first hand through living directly with fellow members of our global human family have undoubtedly changed me forever. Traveling changes you.
It takes a lot of courage to travel far from home. In doing so we willingly walk away from our loved ones, our creature comforts, our favorite foods, the familiarity of our native tongue (which we too often take for granted) and ultimately the very way in which we are conditioned to perceive this miracle of a journey which we call life. Indeed, there are countless ways to travel along this winding road and when we venture far from what we know we are offered a glimpse into not only other ways of eating, dressing, talking, etc, but we are gifted with the rare opportunity to witness and possibly even come to know directly, other ways of seeing and being altogether.
I extend my admiration to all of you, recognizing the difficulties in making such a noble choice. To be far from home is often challenging in ways those who opt for easier paths do not fully understand. The adventures ahead will be at times very difficult. We ask a great deal of you on Dragons courses and we empathize with the shared hardships that inevitably come when genuinely seeking wisdom. But be assured, the rewards are worth the hardships. And as we nomads have come to know, the journey itself IS the destination.
I am truly honored to be joining Umi and Chrissy as one of your leaders, teachers, guides, and above all, friend and fellow seeker for the first six weeks of your journey and look forward to seeing you soon.