At Grand Circle, June is a time for bringing people together. Every year, we welcome our top-performing Program Directors and associates from all over the world to spend a week on our property in Kensington, New Hampshire. It’s a perfect occasion to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year—but if you’ve ever met Alan or me, you’ll know that we can’t just leave it at that! Rather than rest on our laurels, we spend the week pushing ourselves to find out how we can improve our trips and the way we do business. It’s an exhausting week, but so incredibly rewarding.
Last month, Alan, Charlotte, and I traveled to Lithuania, the Ukraine, and Russia. The whole trip was a study in contrasts—to see the opulent palaces of the tsars in St. Petersburg alongside a history of oppression under both Stalin and Hitler was honestly hard to take at times … but it’s so important to understand the painful periods of history.
I traveled to Turkey once in the 70s and then again in the 90s, and it was amazing to see how the country had changed. From my first trip, I distinctly remembered a wooded area alongside the Bosporus because it was so pristine and beautiful—maybe it was an island?—but when I returned two decades later, it had been completely replaced by hotels and apartment buildings. The country had become so much more modern! An upside to this, though, was that the people seemed much more friendly and welcoming of Americans.
Every April, Alan’s mother used to say something that always stuck with me: “We lived to see another spring.” In Boston, we’ve had such unusual weather lately—it hit 85 degrees in March. It was so warm for just long enough that the magnolias popped open on Commonwealth Avenue, which is one of my favorite sights—like our own little version of Japan’s cherry blossoms....
It’s hard not to think about the past when you’re in Poland. The horrific things that happened during World War II, the toll it took on the world—and what a contrast there is with the present, even when you feel like you’re still in the old world. During the war, Warsaw was decimated by bombs—but the entire city was reconstructed exactly as it was, painstakingly rebuilt according to the original urban plan. To walk there, it still feels like you’re in old Poland … only now, the people have hope.