Dealing with wanderlust by becoming a citizen diplomat

It’s been over a month since I’ve been back from my trip. While I am glad to be home and am anticipating the upcoming ski season, part of me wishes I were still traveling. Feeling unsettled in life (Job search is going slow) is contributing to the desire to hit the road but part of it is the reality every day life doesn’t offer the constant stimulation that traveling does. On many days life isn’t good or bad or dull or exciting or anything too extreme one way or the other. Life just “is” much of the time.

I miss the long and carefree days when all I had to concern myself with was what will I eat, what sites will I visit, how will I get there. I miss visiting new places and having new experiences each day. I miss the sound of the Serbian/Croatian/Montenegrin language and checking out Balkan men with dreamy eyes.

Taking the Brazilians skiing for the first time!
On occasion, I get to satisfy my wanderlust without leaving town. There are over 90 international visitor centers in the United States and we are lucky to have one (WorldMontana) in Bozeman. International visitor centers like WorldMontana work in conjunction with the U.S. State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program. This program was designed to bring current and emerging foreign leaders to the United States to meet with their professional counterparts and local residents.

Ukrainians love to toast!

I have been volunteering with WorldMontana for over four years and have had the chance to welcome visitors to my home for parties, dinner and home stays. This is one of the best ways to meet people from all over the world and find out a bit more about countries you may or may not have visited. By hosting these visitors I hope to show them what life in the United States is like, satisfy any curiosities they may have about Americans and hopefully dispel any negative images.

Surrounded by Russians
With all that has gone on in the world in recent years and the tarnishing of the United States’ once stellar reputation worldwide, I enjoy getting to talk to foreign visitors. Many times we talk about life in general and have good conversations as well as a few laughs. By sharing a meal, we realize that we have more in common than we once thought. I encourage anyone interested in different cultures to become involved with WorldMontana (http://www.worldmontana.org/) or with your local international visitor center (List here)

Visiting English teachers from Russia & Poland
Few people have pets in Japan so they love being in a home with an animal
Youth Ambassadors from Brazil & their American hosts
This Saturday I’ll be hosting a group of Italian visitors, their translator and a few of my friends for a dinner party. Photos to come.