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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

World Travelers

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World travelers are hidden in our daily lives. The man on the corner selling newspapers has seen the foothills of Saudi Arabia. The woman in the next cubicle has danced in the bars of Israel.  Walking down the street in a city, I wish I could simply look into the minds of passerby. What are their stories?  Where have they walked? What have they seen? On one occasion, I finally was able to look into the travel stories of one traveler – spending his winters in a corner of a classroom, waiting for the summer months to come.

 Brett looks up from his computer and smiles. He turns down his techno music (a standard sound in his study periods) that has been resonating from his computer speakers, and turns to me. His jacket displays the logo of the HHS Wrestling team, with COACH brazenly embellished on the sleeve. He is deeply involved in Haverhill High School, with good reason; it was his high school too. And though he has returned to where he grew up, the trip getting here has taken him across the country, and across the world.

Brett Legault grew up in Haverhill, Massachusetts. He attended Haverhill High, where he played football, wrestled and ran track. After graduating, he attended Plymouth State University- not for teaching, but for his degree in Business. “No, I never planned on being a math teacher, but once I tried teaching, I fell in love with it after the first day,” he tells me. His favorite part of teaching? “I love it when you can see the light go on. It’s amazing when the kids don’t think they can do something, and then figure out they actually can. Usually, it’s just a matter of trying,” he explains with a genuine smile. But it isn’t just in the classroom where he helps Hillies succeed.

But his other passion is far from New England. It is in the tacks upon his wall. I learned of Brett’s life of travel when in high school, after asking him about the map he had next to his chalkboard. It isn’t often that world maps are found in math rooms. But it isn’t often that a math teacher is able to say he’s been to Thailand. Mr. Legault’s travels are represented with colorful tacks stuck in every country and state visited, creating quite a display. This man takes his summers seriously: seeing the world.

After graduating from college, Mr. Legault moved to Las Vegas with a friend. But even in the Entertainment Capital of the World, there wasn’t enough excitement. And in a moment of freedom, of living life without ties, without regret, Brett decided, with a spin of a globe, to become a traveler. “We were just sitting around, shooting the breeze, and I started spinning the globe…and I was looking at all the places I hadn’t been yet. My finger stopped on London…so I went.”

Thus began a life of bartending in London, and traveling on short one to two week trips around the continent. On any given day Legault could be in Thailand, or Ireland. Some weeks, he went to France and others Amsterdam. For four years, Mr. Legault lived as a traveler. After being asked for one specific experience that he held above others, he told of a weekend trip to Ireland. “I met ‘Uncle Bob’ while in a bar one night. He was a retired cop. We met and he basically took me under his wing, showing me all the places that tourists never see. I was even invited to meet his family and friends. In that weekend I learned a lot about Ireland in a citizen’s perspective, rather than a tourist’s.” His face lightened as he thought back on the old man, and then his eyes grew wide as he recalled another memory. On the other side of the world, he was snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, when he came across a shark. As it swam by, he said, “I realized how much life has to offer, and how many experiences are out there if you just let yourself find them.” Out of all his travels, he tells me that New Zealand most complemented his personality. “It’s just the epitome of nice being nice. They’re just amazing people with strong morals.”

With so many stories kept hidden in the colorful tacks, it’s amazing that the traveler has found his way back home. But he has the memories, and continues to make them. “Iceland is pretty high up on my list of places to go next,” he says with a glint of excitement in his eye. I wouldn’t doubt his intentions either. For this man, another summer means another tack in the map, and another memory filling his mind.

Read 3814 times Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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