Wednesday, August 25, 2010


How did you spend your summer weekends and vacations? Did you travel to Cancun to relax in the surf and sand or visit Jones Beach, Rockaway Beach or the Jersey Shore for a day visit? Did you rough it and go camping in the local park or pitch a tent in your backyard? Did you journey to faraway places to experience new cultures and mystical landscapes or discover these places in the chapters of a book?

In these economic times, individuals are redefining vacations and uncovering ways to learn something new and relax. Your “stay vacation” may have included a picnic in Central Park, a barbecue in a state park, or just staying home and relaxing in your own backyard.

Vacations that include travel have the power to show us what we -- and the world -- are made of. And in these complicated times, we, too, must broaden our understanding of the world if we are to be effective in our personal and professional lives.

Although I have enjoyed traveling to faraway places, I stayed close to home this summer. I had a great time exploring and enjoying the beautiful Long Island beaches and the surrounding communities. I spent time with family and friends, worked in my garden, grilled on the barbecue, relaxed and caught up with my summer reading.

When we move beyond familiar surroundings, we awaken our senses and we challenge our intellects. Whether we’re stepping into the sophistication of a Paris cafĂ© or climbing a mountain path in Peru, enjoying the vistas of the Grand Canyon, enjoying a music festival in our neighborhood park or walking the boardwalk at our local beach - fresh sights, sounds, tastes and smells await us at every turn.

As we interact with people who may look, speak and behave far differently than we do, we begin to respect our common humanity.

These experiences also help us to see our own surroundings with new eyes. We can certainly take advantage of a multitude of opportunities to step out of the familiar and broaden our understanding of this diverse place called planet Earth.

I look forward to hearing about the adventures that you experienced this summer by adding your comments below. As we prepare for the beginning of the Fall Quarter, we will have fond memories of the Summer of 2010.

Dario A. Cortes, PhD