by Grace Talusan
Last summer, Sara Tahir traveled to Iceland, a place unlike anywhere she had ever been. "It looks like the moon," she said. While there, she saw fields of solidified lava covered with moss. She hiked glaciers, swam in hot springs, and stood between the continental plates.
Sara is strategic about saving money and collects frequent flier miles so that she can travel during breaks from teaching. She has thus far traveled to Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Pakistan, China, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Monaco, and France. But don't call her a tourist.
"There's a difference," Sara explains. "A tourist can visit all the sites, but a temporary resident can live like those in the community and actually talk to those people living in the community. A tourist is removed from that experience of functioning in a place. Even if you're temporary, you're part of it."
In her explorations as a temporary resident of the world, Sara returns to the classroom changed and enriched. After her Icelandic adventure, she incorporated Icelandic literature into her classes.
"I'm reminded of how insignificant we are. And also how interconnected we are. There are so many things out there in the world," she says. "It's really interesting how people come up with solutions to survive their daily life."
"Not everyone has the chance to get out and explore the world so one way to help prepare students is to be sure that they have some understanding of the diversity in the world," Sara adds. Her hope is to bring that world back to Pingree via the Pingree Fellowship program, an endeavor to recruit fellows from underrepresented populations to join the Pingree community as temporary teaching assistants. It is a project close to her heart, that she looks forward to expanding in upcoming months.