I grew up in a pretty traditional American suburb upbringing. I didn’t learn a different language, we traveled to Florida, Washington, D.C., Cedar Point, California and, of course, “up north” on family vacations. Ethnic food meant tacos, lasagna, or, from my own German heritage, sauerkraut and springerle cookies. It was a different time then and the world seemed a lot bigger when I was a kid.
International trips were for the wealthy, restaurants served American cuisine and there was no such thing as learning about the world by surfing the Net. America may have been a melting pot, but my neighborhood and schools were still pretty homogeneous.
Things like the Olympics and movies offered opportunities to see different kinds of people, cultures, foods, languages and landscapes. It was a chance to experience places that seemed exotic and exciting, but only on a screen. As a kid, I never dreamed that I might someday visit places across the world. That seemed pure fantasy.