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It’s A Gray Area:

Expand your children’s horizons

August 16, 2008|By JAMES P. GRAY

The two best ways to expand the horizons of our children is for them to travel and for them to read. In traveling they can be exposed to unfamiliar places and also see both the bad and the good of how other people live. That allows them to learn firsthand that there are places in the world other than Newport Beach, and both be stimulated by the differences and more appreciative of what they have here at home. In reading they can vicariously live the lives of other beings of any time and any place, and this will in turn bring them a much deeper understanding of their own lives.

When I was 12 years old, my parents took my older sister and me to Europe for six weeks. We took the train from here to New York, and then a passenger ship to England. Our parents did it this way so that my sister and I could see firsthand how large our country is, and how far away Europe is from us.

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Then we traveled in England, Scotland, France, Switzerland (the birthplace of my mother’s grandparents) and Denmark before flying home.

That trip more than anything else in my life filled me both with a wanderlust and with a knowing that, as time went on, I could travel by myself too. It was a great thing for my development and my independence. What a gift my parents gave us by this trip!

A question I frequently ask other people is, “Where is the most fascinating place you have ever been?” Then I say they can define fascinating any way they want to. The responses to that question have almost always been interesting. In fact, I asked that question to Dr. Eugen Weber, who was my all-time favorite UCLA professor, and his wife. They both responded that their most fascinating place was the Villa d’Est on Lake Como in northern Italy. So several years later my wife and I went there expressly because of their answer.

The Webers were right. Other than being quite expensive, overall it was a truly wonderful and stimulating place.

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