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A Message from our Director – November 2015

Thanksgiving is a great holiday. No gifts are expected, and everyone is focusing on one of my favorite things: good food. It’s a rare moment in our cultural calendar where we set aside some time to recognize the blessings in our lives. As I do this myself, I reflect on the amazing opportunities I have had abroad.  I am especially grateful for the wonderful families all over the world who have hosted me in their homes, given me a safe and comfortable place to sleep, and provided me with meals prepared with love. For those of you who have stayed in homestays abroad, you might take a moment to reach out and reconnect with those families. From my experience, it will mean the world to them. Below is a picture of my first homestay in Kericho, Kenya, which I had the great fortune to revisit on a return trip two summers ago!

A lot of fear has been spreading lately following brutal attacks by extremist groups around the world. Unfortunately, this has led to xenophobia in many communities, especially against Muslims. One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is that it is a holiday shared by people of many diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds. I enjoy the image of all of us–Black, White, Muslim, Christian, Atheist, Gay, Straight–sitting around tables with our families and friends, giving the proverbial finger to those who would try to intimidate us and spread hateful messages of violence and exclusion.

Last month I visited the home of Mark Twain, the famous author who once wrote “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Now more than ever I believe this is true, and I’m proud to see so many PAA applicants and participants defying the message that we should lock our doors and shutter our windows. Instead they are getting out there and seeing what the world and its people are really about, and how people are telling their stories through dance, music, theater, and film.

As always, I welcome you to e-mail me directly at  with any questions regarding our programs and how to get involved.  For a full list of locations where we offer programs, please see below.

Program Locations:

Costa Rica
Galapagos Islands
South Africa

Reynolds Whalen
Director of Performing Arts Abroad

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