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Friday, February 18, 2011

Family Takes Year-Long Journey In Search Of Life Lessons

Here and Now Guests:

Dana White, 14-year-old Alexandra and 11-year-old Reis

A Massachusetts family of six is spending a year traveling the world, blogging and creating videos in countries from Iceland to Cambodia.

Far from a typical sightseeing trip, Dana and Greg White are immersing their family in each culture they visit and exposing their children to places where they might one day make a difference.

“Greg and I decided after our third and fourth children were born that we wanted to do something that really solidified our family and strengthened the family fabric, while at the same time offering our four children — who are very fortunate to live in the time and the place where they do — to show them that life is really a privilege and not an entitlement,” Dana White told Here & Now Friday from outside Da Nang, Vietnam.

The White children are missing school, but there’s been no shortage of experiential learning.

“One of the major things we’ve been learning is that water is the next global problem,” 14-year-old Alex said. “And that most people around the world don’t have clean water to wash themselves in, and much less drink.”

Alex says her friends back home tell her they’re learning American history and algebra. On her birthday the family spent the day being Vietnamese peasants, learning traditional ways of farming and fishing.

Alex’s little brother, 11-year-old Reis, said his favorite part of the trip so far was Antarctica.

“I really enjoyed Antarctica and going around the bottom of the world on an ice breaker and seeing all the legendary penguins and ice, ice and a lot more ice,” Reis said.

But Antarctica was also where the family had its biggest mishap. Greg White had to fly from Antarctica to Boston for surgery after catching his leg in a hole while sliding down an ice field. He missed a month of the journey before rejoining his family in Tanzania.

There’s no denying the high cost of a trip like this. Some might wonder if the Whites could have spent their money in a more socially responsible way, but Dana White says the trip will instill in the children a desire to help others.

“We wanted them to see firsthand where our dollars and our effort can really make a difference,” she said, “and hopefully our experiences will help ignite a passion in them for a cause.”

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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