Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reflections on a Child's Homework Project,

My 11 year old daughter brought a scrapbook home from school entitled "My Favourite Holiday". All of her classmates had each contributed a page of text and pictures describing their favourite holiday experience.

When I was 11 back in the mid 1970's cheap air travel was unthinkable and such holidays as were taken often relied on the generosity of rural dwelling relatives. Still we had plenty of fun. Ireland is blessed with beautiful scenery and a stunning coastline so the ever fickle weather and typical water temperatures of 15°C did little to dampen out enjoyment. Foreign travel was unheard of outside of church sponsored pilgrimages to selected religious shrines. It was more than a decade later that the advent of cheap student travel first allowed me to broaden my own horizons and by sleeping on trains and in dingy hostels I began to see the world.

My daughters classmates live in a very different time. In many ways they live in a different world. Cheap air travel has put a dozen or more countries within reach of a single days average industrial wage.  Significantly these particular 11 years old's  were born and raised in a now near mythical time known as the "Celtic Tiger". For a brief moment Ireland's star burned very bright and we believed we were all rich. Now we are poor again and it appears that much of the wealth we believed we had was all illusion but for that brief period anything was possible.

The pages of the scrapbook tell of journeys to fabulously exotic places: Australia, California, Brazil, South Africa. Between them these eleven olds have charted a map of the globe. They talk of wonders such as Niagara Falls and the Pyramids of Egypt with the casual familiarity that my eleven year old self would have reserved for our local park. Certainly the advent of cheap travel has shrunk the globe but these truly are the children of the Celtic Tiger. Now that it is over I wonder if they will ever get to visit these places again.

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