Insights on Travel from Costa Rica Expeditions’ Founder Michael Kaye and his Expert Friends.

What does Fleet Week in New York and Lodge Guests Helping Local Kids Learn English in Tortuguero have in Common?

Yolanda and I are in New York City for the next 3 weeks.  One of the highlights this week is “Fleet Week.”  Over a dozen ships from the US and Canadian Navies and thousands of sailors and marines are have come to visit.

What I’ve always loved about Fleet Week is that it embodies the generous exchange of kindnesses that makes travel so emotionally nourishing. This is made possible by the fact that the visitors bring their homes with them.  So the sailors and marines invite New Yorkers on their ships and treat them like royalty, and New Yorkers invite the sailors into their city and treat them like royalty. I must not be the only one who feels this way, because Fleet Week started in 1984 and has been going strong ever since.

You wouldn’t think that several thousand visitors would make much of an impression in a city of over 8 million inhabitants, but it seems like everyplace you go you see them in their uniforms.

Yolanda who has never met a stranger enjoys as she calls it in her over 30 year endeavor to jazz up the English language, “Week Fleet.”

So, what does sailors and ships visiting New York City have to do with lodge guests helping kids in Tortuguero learn English.

I admit it is a bit of a stretch, but there are a couple of important aspects that did not make it into the previous posts that Fleet Week brings to mind.

The first one is reciprocity.  I have no doubt that the kids will value what they learn much more if they have the opportunity to give something in return.

What we are going to ask them to give the guests in return for help in English is to show you things from their daily lives.

The other aspect is a name.  If Fleet Week had been called, “Sailors inviting New Yorkers on their ships and New Yorkers openning their hearts and homes to Sailors,” I doubt whether Fleet Week would have made it to 1985.

Since I am a strong believer in the importance of names, I asked the best wordsmith, I know, Ron Richards from Results Lab for help. Since we both agreed that it was important for the experience to be fun and as unike school as possible,  Ron came up with, “The Words Adventure.”  I hope you like it as much as I do.

If you have had travel experiences involving shared kindnesses or any comments on the name or importance of names in general, please share.

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3 Comments and 1 Replies

  • At June 08, 2013
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    • At June 02, 2010
      4:06:38 pm
      Shannon Borrego said:

      Michael,
      I’m so glad you mentioned reciprocity as I agree that the exchange between the local student and guest teacher must be rewarding for both. As a tour operator trying to offer your guests a meaningful experience, one of the goals should be for the guest/volunteer to come away from the experience feeling enriched by the encounter. Judie’s comment expresses how moving that exchange can be. One remembers those special moments much more clearly than the details of archeological ruins, museums, etc.
      In my own experience, my life was changed by the kindnesses expressed to me on a daily basis by a Mexican family with whom I lived for a semester while studying Spanish. I corresponded with the mother of the family for several years after returning to the States and then eventually married her son (who was away at veterinary school most of the time I was living with the family). The mutual respect and interest in one another’s culture and beliefs opened the door to possibilities which would have seemed unthinkable before the experience. We have been happily married for 31 years.

      • At June 01, 2010
        11:14:16 pm
        judie apple said:

        ABOUT SHARED KINDNESS….I was fortunate to be in Costa Rica with Habitat for Humanity. We worked on a house and a school in Rosario de Naranjo and while I was painting the outside of the school a small child came up and stood beside me without saying a word. I tried to speak with him about his school and his family in spanish , but still he said not a word, though I knew he understood. He had something in his hand and it looked like a tiny deck of playing cards and I thought he wanted to play with me. All of a sudden he took the cards…ALL of them… and put them in my hand…and then he ran off.I looked down at the cards and then read them in spanish and realized they were valentines.This is what he had to share with me for helping his school and his kindness brought me to tears because he could have given me A CARD, but instead gave them ALL to me .I never could find him to thank him…and I’ll never forget the fact they he gave me ALL he had.It made me realize that I had so much more than he had monetarily yet, if I were in his place I would probably have given him ONE not all . .I learned alot about myself and his culture from his act of shared kindess and i am so greatful for him.