Open Your Eyes: Extraordinary Experiences in Faraway Places ed by Jill Davis.
Viking/Penguin Group: NY, 2003.

Included are anecdotes by popular authors about time they lived or traveled abroad. Eye-opening experiences that affected their lives in some way. Only two of the entries are not remembrances. Susie Morgenstern's is an imagining of her daughter's thoughts about their living in France. Kathleen Krull interviewed her stepdaughter who has embraced traveling more fully. Jill Davis shares her unintended train trip in France with no money or passport. Luckily, it turned out wonderfully. Lois Lowry writes of a visit to a neighbor's home in Tokyo, Japan after WWII and a beautiful gift. Katherine Paterson writes letters home during her summer trip before her senior year in college. M. T. Anderson shares his good fortune of boarding school in England and the experience that brought him back to the U.S. to stay. Graham Salisbury writes of overwhelming feelings upon hearing English and seeing an American flag in Venice after eight months traveling. Jean Fritz speaks of wanting to feel more American as a missionary kid in China and her strong ties to China through her young experiences.

The three stories that made the strongest impression on me are by Elizabeth Partridge, Piper Dellums, and Harry Mazer. Instead of her later years of travel, Elizabeth Partridge chose a memory from 1963 when her family traveled across the U.S., a memory of deeply ingrained prejudice in Atlanta, Georgia. Piper Dellums remembers a South African friend who came to stay with her family through the AFS program, in which students live with a family in another country for a year. She speaks of the family's disappointment that Carrie was an Afrikaaner instead of Black African, Carrie's horror to be staying with a Black family, the reasons for feelings on both sides and the process of working it out, and the change in attitude of Carrie and Piper as a result of the experience. Harry Mazer describes the last mission of his B-17 bomber crew in WWII and his short period as a POW, his dumb luck in the experience compared to all but one of his crew.

I enjoyed the book as a whole. Only one of the entries seemed weak to me. Most of the authors had experiences that challenged their thinking as Americans, some at a deeper level. For many of them their travels were a turning point, changing the direction of their lives and stimulating growth as people.

related-voyages and travels, American authors, hospitality, insecurity, perceptions of other cultures, prejudice, differences in education, homesick

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