On a blustery autumn evening in 2002, I made what has been to date, the most eventful decision of my life. It was the first night of my new job teaching conversational English at a private engineering school in a nondescript suburb of Paris. I was in the midst of nervously presenting the course timeline for my class on “Rock and American society”, when in walked a very eager latecomer. Smiling coyly, well aware of both his tardiness and lack of available seats in the class, he asked: “do you have room for one more?” Hesitant to challenge school protocol on my first day of the job, I started to say no, but then I thought, “What the heck? One more student surely won’t make that big of a difference”.
Years later, reflecting on the first time that I laid eyes on my husband, it’s difficult to believe how such a cursory decision could alter my entire life path. Spending the last ten years in Paris, pursuing graduate studies in France and even conducting fieldwork in French speaking West Africa, were all opportunities that came about because of the relationship I have built with the tardy student who just needed my class to meet his university’s language requirements.
People often say to me “wow, ten years in Paris, you must have really fallen in love with the culture ”. I do love Paris and find French culture fascinating; yet, my love affair with France would hardly have endured a decade of Parisian winters if it were all about Macaroons, Montmartre and Monet. My real love has been discovering my husband’s world through his eyes. In this sense, my heart belongs not to the tour Eiffel, but to the relationships and encounters I have shared with my husband, his family and his friends. Interestingly however, as a bi-cultural couple on his home turf, we neither live in his culture, nor in mine: his path has been equally influenced by exposure to my worldview. I like to think of us as cultural nomads: our perspectives and interpretations follow the ebb and flow of our daily experience, constantly evolving, perpetually re-adapting to fit the life we have built together. In my mind, this is the greatest trek of the post-modern nomad.
As international borders become increasingly blurred, our world is changing, in part because of the perseverance and ingenuity of globetrekker couples like my husband and myself. Blessed with unique opportunities and faced with daunting bureaucratic, linguistic, and spatial barriers, globetrekker couples are leading the transition from a world separated by cultural and spatial divides to a world connected by an appreciation and tolerance for those who live beyond our own backyard. These are their stories; fundamental lessons in humanity and modern testimonies to the age-old expression “love conquers all”. Read on to discover the series of articles on globetrekkers in love!