In many countries around the world Father’s Day is just around the corner. In honor of dads everywhere, we’ve interviewed Rodney, a proud father, who just had the chance to travel with his son, Ross, to Kosovo with Up with People’s Impact Program. Happy Father’s Day to everyone, no matter where or when you celebrate dad around the world!
How was your trip to Kosovo? What were some highlights?
“Kosovo was much an unknown destination. What most appealed to me was that it was not a tourist destination. The only time I have heard of it was when my co-worker’s son was stationed there in the U.S. army 19 years ago. Of all the places I have traveled, and all the beautiful sights I have seen, it is the people you meet and the conversations you have that make the largest impact. Kosovo took that to a new level. To hear a family speak of the day the Serbian forces came to their house and killed their father was beyond impactful. Very difficult to listen to and realize that this was such a short time ago.”
As a father, do you think it’s important for kids to travel? If so why?
“I believe it is one of the most important things young people can do at a young age. Coming from a small town, stereotypes and beliefs of others are easily cast upon others. Without the opportunity to experience things first hand, young people grow up largely on other people’s information. I also believe it fosters independent thinking, and teaches life skills to adapt to situations that are out of one’s comfort zones. That is how one grows.”
You traveled with your son to Kosovo. What was that like to travel together?
“My son, Ross, and I have traveled many times together and it is always a very fulfilling experience for me. It is very rewarding to share one of my greatest passions in life with my son. I feel it gives him a better understanding of who I am and why I am the person I am. You can never talk about Up with People or traveling and have someone understand it completely. These experiences give him a very good idea of some things I did when I was his age, and how it has shaped my life and my beliefs.”
What do you hope he took away from the trip?
“That he is extremely fortunate to have the healthy, prosperous life he has. To always know that what is normal and taken for granted by him can help change others’ lives. Also that sharing his time and talents to those less fortunate can be one of the most rewarding things one can do.“
Why did you want to go on this trip together?
“It was his first trip to such a poverty stricken country. I wanted him to experience how warm and loving and welcoming people are, even when they have nothing to offer but their conversation and interest in other people. He saw this over and over in our short week in Kosovo and formed some friendships that will last far beyond our trip. He is anxious to travel again, to see and learn new things from new people and in new ways!
That warms my heart like nothing else.”
Rodney traveled in Up with People in 1985 and currently resides in Pennsylvania, USA. He and his son, Ross, have traveled many places together, including Up with People’s Impact Kosovo and Experience Rome tours.
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Up with People is a global education organization which aims to bring the world together through service and music. The unique combination of international travel, service learning, leadership development and performing arts offers young adults an unparalleled study abroad experience and a pathway to make a difference in the world, one community at a time. Click here to learn more about the internationally acclaimed program, Up with People.