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Today I'm very pleased to announce to you that I have been awarded the title of National Geographic's Traveler of the Year!
Check out the full article and interview here. You'll see it in print in the November edition of the magazine later this month. And no, it won't look anything like this cheesy image I created in 5 minutes in GIMP image editor 😛
This isn't because of my Irish charm, blogging skills, outgoing personality or anything of the sort – it's because I promote a style of travel that allows people to get to know the local culture much better, by talking directly to a country's people, in their language. I've always been a fan of Nelson Mandela's wise words:
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
And I'm glad to see they included these words in the article.
While this is a fun tagline to have in my bio, I actually consider this a win for language learners in general, because this kind of traditional media coverage shows that a style of truly experiencing the world by learning the languages of its many fascinating people, is getting taken more and more seriously.
There were about 1,500 nominees for the Traveler of the Year, and they carefully reviewed each candidate until finding the best people for the title. I had no idea that I had been nominated until a week or so before the final decision was made when they wanted to know “why” I travel. I wrote a quick answer, not thinking much of it, but it must have been powerful enough to push them over the edge.
They told me about it over the summer, and said to keep it under wraps until they had announced it themselves. A surprising amount of work went into setting it up including me spending several hours with a professional photographer in little Tokyo in LA for a shoot.
There were a few others awarded the title this year, including my friend Shannon O'Donnel. As you can imagine, since I see myself as a traveller before I see myself as a language learner, I am incredibly honoured by this title!!
Once again, here is the article with the interview questions! Tomorrow I'll get back to updating you on how I'm pushing my Japanese forward!