The wind atop Greece’s Acropolis whipped my hair like a milkshake as I stared at the towering stone women. Why did they look so familiar?
“You are looking at the Caryatid Porch of Erechtheion,” our guide told our teacher tour group, “built around 420 BCE… over 2,400 years ago.”
I knew I had seen those statues before back in Boston… and often. But where?
“The design is remarkable,” our guide continued. “Each woman is carved with unique characteristics, and their necks are slender and feminine, even as they hold up that heavy stone roof! The five figures you see here are replicas. The real ones are currently in the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, which we will tour later. They are in the process of being painstakingly cleaned by laser.”
“Where is the sixth?” another teacher asked.
Our guide’s face tightened. “The sixth statue was stolen by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century and is, you could say, being held hostage in the British Museum in London. We keep that sixth pedestal empty to remember this loss.”
As I snapped a photo of my coworker in front of the statues, it suddenly hit me where I had seen those statues before: I walk past them 180 days each year in the entry hall of the school in Boston where I teach!
“Ahh!!!” I exclaimed, slapping my forehead. If I hadn’t traveled to Greece, would I ever have realized the meaning behind my school’s statues and architecture? Nope– I likely would’ve continued striding by the stone women day after day, always thinking, “Geez, that’s some weird art.”
Thus is the power of global learning: Travel lets you unlock secret new layers of understanding!
It’s kind of like the video game Super Mario Brothers, when you find the button that turns coins into bricks and suddenly see that those new bricks form steps to allow you to climb to a secret level full of coins! (Yes, I am a secret video game geek.)
After the statue realization in Greece, I look around our world with curiosity. What other allusions am I missing??? What journeys will it take to discover them?
So what about you? What secret layers of understanding has travel (or mental travel through study) unlocked for YOU?
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!