Our community blogs

  1. You've met them before, and you know exactly what I'm talking about. Those friends who just happen to know the "real" Timbuktu- not they way you have seen it as a tourist, but the way they know it as a global nomad. You can't contribute anything to the travel conversation, because no matter what you say, they smile sympathetically, snicker, because you poor soul, you cannot possibly know anything about Zimbabwe that they haven't experienced better.

    In my lifetime, travel certainly has become a lot cheaper, and accessible to everyone. Gone are the days when we can wow someone with our Polaroids from Chennai, chances are that the person we are talking to has already been there.  So, I don't quite understand this growing movement to "educate" people about the proper way to travel, the authentic way to experience, the responsible way to learn about a culture. Do we now need an instruction manual to see for ourselves?

    Over the years, I have met all kinds of travel snobs, I am sure you have too, so rather than teach you how to recognize them, feel free to add your experience to this conversation. Out of sympathy for my fellow adventurers, I have classified them into easily identifiable stereotypes, so that rather than engage, you can pick up your luggage and roll in the opposite direction. Here are my favorite travel snobs:

    The Authenticators:  They pore through each minute detail of your travel story looking for a flaw in your experience. You downed shots of tequilla with a worm in Mexico, but don't you know that the proper way is to call it mezcal, and it's not a worm its a larva? You luxuriated the a 5-star Leela Palace in Udaipur, but poor you, you missed out on seeing how real people live. No matter how you saw it, it couldn't possibly be legit, because they know how it's experienced better. The saving grace of the authenticators is that they don't fault us for our ignorance, they just know better.

    The Modern Day Missionaries: They arrive at their destination, ready to "educate" the unconscious. You see, they come with the knowledge the locals so desperately need, and are ready to teach the dullards how to better their existence. Never mind that the locals have a 1000 year tradition of teaching their kids the value of work, because where modern-day missionaries come from, child labor is wrong, and they are here to save your children from your ignorance. Never mind that in all of India, very few people own air conditioning, a school without it needs their immediate attention.

    The Enlightened Ones:  For them, travel has lead to a spiritual awakening, and they are now ready to sparkle their fairy dust onto our darkness. They are now better people because they struck a yoga pose on the beaches of Durban, or had their colons cleansed at an ashram in Chandigarh. You poor tourist, couldn't possibly know anything about enlightenment because you only spent 40 years of your life serving the local poor, reading e-books on existentialism, battling your own inner demons. They are also more cultured, better exposed than you poor clod who who doesn't bow at the sun each morning.

    The Non-Tourists: No matter how they travel, they are never the tourist. Everyone else standing in front of the Eiffel Tower is, because they wear cameras around their necks, speak English, and ask irritating questions. Somehow these non-tourists can always experience the same thing we tourists do, only better. If they are walking down the streets of Paris, they always have a baguette under their arm, accost the locals of Moldova with their practiced regional dialects, and somehow never carry luggage, because it's the touristy thing to do. But, they show up at weddings and black tie affairs in Monaco in Keds, because they can't be bothered to pack luggage. They belong everywhere, just don't call them tourists. But you gotta admit, when you land in a country and they place a stamp in your passport, you are a tourist.

    The Social Class Snobs:  There are those who only fly coach, because business is too gauche, and there are those who only fly first class, and wouldn't consider a red-eye in economy. Some have enough miles to flaunt a dozen first class trips through southeast Asia and won't go anywhere unless it's at the front of the plane, others scoff at anything that reeks of elitism, and demonstrate their travel expertise by sleeping on the floor at the airport. Either way, there is disapproval at both ends of the spectrum, and for some their way of travel is the only right way.

    In all fairness, we can all be travel snobs. I too sometimes scoff at loud, obnoxious, food grabbing, personal space intruding travelers who don't seem to understand that an airport lounge is for people who want to rest and relax in peace. But then, I get drunk with my friends on a beach in Bali, and know what the locals must be thinking- Tourists!  :)

    My point is that we are all tourists whether we like to admit it or not. The best we can do is try to respect other cultures, and let them be who they are, without imposing our personal beliefs on others.

    Got your own travel snobs to add to this list?  Would love to hear from you.





  2. The Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute of Columbia University in collaboration with the Ukrainian Institute of America present
    International Conference
    February 24 -25, 2017
    Columbia University
    The conference will focus both on the important institutions that were founded under the Ukrainian Central Rada/Ukrainian National Republic, the Ukrainian State of Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky, the Ukrainian National Republic under the Dyrectoria, and on the individuals that formed them. These state institutions proved to be essential in organizing and giving structure to Ukrainian political, educational, cultural and religious developments at that time. The successes and failures of these initiatives provided models that were both emulated and adjusted in subsequent years and that continue to inform Ukrainian nation-building efforts today. The conference will examine the lasting impact of these individuals and institutions on Ukrainian culture and scholarship.
    The two-day conference will feature panels focusing on political, academic and religious institutions, literature, visual art and music as well as on memoirs and archives of this period. Among the people and organizations that will be examined at Ukrainian Statehood 1917–21: Institutions and Individuals are: Volodymyr Vynnychenko, Heorhii Narbut, Ahatanhel Krymsky, Kyrylo Stetsenko, Serhii Iefremov, Yuri Mezhenko, , Pavlo Khrystiuk, Mykhail’ Semenko, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, The Union for the Liberation of Ukraine, the National Library, The Ukrainian State Academy of Arts and the Kyiv Conservatory.
    A characteristic shared by many of the aforementioned individuals is that they were involved in several fields and institutions at once: the academic, literary and political activities intersect in one variety of individual, while the religious, political and musical in another. Ukrainian Statehood 1917–21: Institutions and Individuals will allow theses particularities to be analyzed from different angles. Another important aspect underlying both institutions and individuals of this period—emigration—will also be touched upon in multiple panels.
    Participating in Ukrainian Statehood 1917–21: Institutions and Individuals will be scholars from the US, Canada and Ukraine, including: Andrew Fedynsky, Olena Haleta, Tamara Hundorova, Oleh Ilnytzkyj, Valentyna Kharkhun, Myroslava Mudrak, Victor Ostapchuk, Marko Stech, Melanie Turgeon, Maxim Tarnawsky, Mark von Hagen, and Zenon Wasyliw.
    The first day of Ukrainian Statehood 1917–21: Institutions and Individuals will conclude with a reception while the second day will close with a concert focusing on priest, composer and UNR government minister Kyrylo Stetsenko and the genre of the Ukrainian Art Song, which he developed at that time and which has been recently rehabilitated. The concert will take place at the Ukrainian Institute of America (co-organizer of the conference) and will feature Monica Whicher (soprano), Andrea Ludwig (mezzo soprano) and Albert Krywolt (piano). The entire conference, including the reception and the concert, is free and open to the public. No registration is necessary to attend the conference panels but registration, at the Ukrainian Institute of America website, is necessary to attend the concert.
    Conference Program

    Friday, February 24, 2017
    Room 1512 – International Affairs Building
    420 West 118th St, New York, NY 10027
    Mark von Hagen
    “Reading Pavlo Khrystiuk’s ‘Notes and Materials’: Why the Ukrainian Revolution Matters for Historians of the Russian Revolutions”
    Zenon Wasyliw
    “Revolution in Faith: The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and its Impact on the Ukrainian Village”
    Andrew Fedynsky
    “Working Toward a National Ukrainian Outcome to the Great War: The Union for the Liberation of Ukraine and Other Materials at the Ukrainian Museum-Archives”
    Viktor Ostapchuk
    “Ahatanhel Krymsky, Orientalist, Ukrainianist, and Permanent Secretary, 1918-1928: The Ukrainian Revolution’s Struggle for an Academy”
    Maxim Tarnawsky
    “Serhii Iefremov: Politician, Publisher, Publicist, and Scholar”
    Olena Haleta
    “Traditional Building: The National Library as a ‘Revolutionary Project’ by Yuri Mezhenko”

    Saturday, February 25, 2017
    Room 1512 – International Affairs Building
    420 West 118th St
    NY, NY 10027
    Myroslava Mudrak
    “The Making of a Brand—The Shaping of Identity: The Life and Legacy of Heorhii Narbut”
    Marko Stech
    “An ‘Academic Revolution’: The Ukrainian State Academy of Arts and Kyiv Conservatory in the Revolutionary Kyiv of 1917-19”
    Melanie Turgeon
    “Broken Harp Strings: The Art Songs of Kyrylo Stetsenko and the Ukrainian Art Song Project”
    Lunch Break
    Tamara Hundorova
    “Volodymyr Vynnychenko’s Novel ‘Across the Line’ as Psychoanalysis of the Ukrainian Revolution”
    Valentyna Kharkhun
    “‘Ukrainian History Should Be Read with Bromine’: Vynnychenko’s Image of the Ukrainian Revolution”
    Oleh Ilnytzkyj
    “Revolution, National Culture and the Avant-Garde: Mykhail’ Semenko as Impresario of a New Ukraine”

    Ukrainian Art Song Concert
    Ukrainian Institute of America
    2 E 79th St, New York, NY 10075
    Andrea Ludwig (mezzo soprano)
    Monica Whicher (soprano)
    Albert Krywolt (piano)
    Presented by the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University.
    Organized in collaboration with The Ukrainian Institute of America.
    The conference is free and open to the public.
    Please RSVP to attend the concert portion of the conference.
  3. OCT 2017 - Travel with Sherry to Australia & New Zealand

    This year, our gathering takes place down under, as we meet in Sydney to embark on an 13 day tour of both Australia and New Zealand.


    Sydney/ Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Queenstown
    Tentative Departure Date, Oct 25 2017

    Join EuroCircle for its annual global adventure.
    For the 7th year in a row, our members from all over the world will gather to make new friends, explore two beautiful destinations, and make memories that last a lifetime.

    This year, our gathering takes place down under, as we meet in Sydney to embark on an 13 day tour of both Australia and New Zealand.

    Please contact Travel Organizer:
    Email Sherry Kumar here [the trip organizer] for complete trip details. (philadelphia at eurocircle dot com)



    Australia Travel Eurocircle.png

  4. Before going out we are going to try this place...been driving in front many times so tonight is the night