For sixteen years I spent each weekday from September through June surrounded by two-thousand teenagers. They sat in my classroom, worked with me on extracurricular activities, planned events, volunteered, did community outreach and we learned from each other. As a teacher, there are many students whose lives intersect with yours during their tenure of high school and once they graduate and spread their wings you’re lucky if that contact is still present. With the advent of social media more and more graduates are able to choose to connect with their teachers. For some it’s to say thank you, for some it’s to ask for advice or recommendations and for others its merely to maintain that connection that started in their youth. I was the class advisor for the graduating class of 2012 and it was in their sophomore year when I left to travel the world and live in Australia for awhile. Those who were interested in travel wanted to know more about my journey. Social media and that travel gene has connected me with many former students and I’m always interested to see where life has taken them after high school. It was that travel connection that brought Maddie Reilly and me back together. A close friend of one of my officers, she spread her university wings farther than many of her peers by taking a university program abroad in Ghana, Africa. When I saw her at this past high school graduation, she was excited to start planning her next adventure to wherever the wind would take her. Here, she reflects on her journey and shares her views of the gifts of travel.
Interview with: Maddie Reilly, Farmingdale, NY