What can we learn through traveling?

During a trip to Iran 11 years ago, June Scott hiked with a group to a remote village that was so off the beaten path, supplies were brought in by burro.

The Oak Brook resident and native Hinsdalean approached an elderly woman sitting on a doorstep wearing a customary head covering.

"She asked if we were Americans, and we said, 'Yes,' " related Scott, who had a translator. "She said, 'You know what? We like Americans. We do not like governments.' "

Scott, 92, has visited more than 100 different countries in pursuit of her globetrotting passion for experiencing other cultures. She credits her late husband with instilling in her a sense of adventure before he passed away 25 years ago.

Last year she took six family members to Patagonia for her belated 90th birthday celebration.

"I'd been there before, but this was a place that my son and my grandson, who live on the West Coast, had always wanted to go to," Scott said. "And my daughter had always wanted to stay at the Explora Lodge, the only lodge within in the (Torres del Paine National) park in Patagonia."

That excursion will be subject of Scott's talk Wednesday, May 8 at Union Church of Hinsdale for the monthly Adult Inter-Faith Fellowship Luncheon (see Page 18 for details).

"It's a beautiful place. It has mountains and glaciers," she said of the region at the southern tip of Chile.

Even further south is a place not on many bucket lists but to which Scott has gravitated three times: Antarctica.

"It's a beautiful continent," said the avid penguin lover.

By her third trip in 2010, she'd already seen 15 of the 17 different penguin species in their natural habitat.

"I got to see the 16th and 17th penguins, which are only on sub-Antarctic islands."

This past January, Scott was a passenger for a month with Semester at Sea, an intergenerational multi-country study abroad program on a ship that made stops in Bangkok, Malaysia and India.

"I was the oldest," she acknowledged. "It was so exciting to be with young people. They kept asking my advice. They called me a 'rock star.' "

Scott wears her identity of lifelong learner proudly, a trait that reinforces her appreciation of our planet and a desire "to understand people around the world."

"I'm not a tourist, I'm a traveler, and I come home being an ambassador for countries like Iran," she said.

"You have go as a global citizen and not with your own lens," she continued. "I come home energized and curious to do more and learn more. We're all alike. We may look different and speak a different language, but we want the same things."

Scott knows her limits at this stage of life. Trekking through rough terrain to see gorillas was possible a couple decades ago but not as a nonagenarian. Now she relishes sharing her adventures with others

"I enjoy doing my travel programs because not everybody can travel," she said. "Some can do it vicariously."

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean