Like most American kids, I went to traditional school for most of my childhood. The routines were familiar, the homework repetitive, and most of the lessons forgotten shortly after. I went through two years of Spanish language lessons, which was required to graduate, but could only speak a few phrases.
Don’t get me wrong, the school system didn’t fail me. I was a competent (enough), accomplished student by graduation at the age of 17. But what I was about to encounter would change the way I did everything—both as a human, and then later, as a parent.
After graduation, I packed my bags (oh so many bags… What was I thinking?!) and took off for a 6 month internship—3 months in Kansas City, and 3 months in the Brazilian Amazon. I had lived in Florida my entire life, so this was—by far—my biggest adventure yet.
After meeting and bonding with a whole new group of friends (who basically became family to me), having some incredible experiences with them, and immersing myself in a new culture, I suddenly had an entirely different take on the world. No amount of language lessons prepared me for the barrage of quickly-spoken Portuguese everywhere I went—but with the new incentive to learn, I picked up more in those few short months than I retained in my entire two years of high school Spanish.
We came back, got settled (mostly) into our “normal” lives again, and pursued careers or other things. But that trip had flipped a switch in me. I craved new foods, languages, experiences. I wanted to learn more—about my world, and as a whole.
Then I fell in love. To an expat (from my internship, nonetheless). This guy had been to 20-something countries already, spoke two languages besides English fluently (and enough to get around in a handful of others), and he wasn’t even 20. Ok, maybe I was a bit jealous. But he intrigued me to no end.
He grew up in the countries and places I studied in school, stood in the presence of architectural and historical wonders I took tests on, experienced firsthand the cultures our classrooms tried to simulate. He learned just about everything through hands-on immersion—because he lived there.
He was quite possibly the smartest person I had ever met.
Right then I decided—this is what I’m doing for my kids.
We’re married now, and we’re traveling the world with our family. WE’RE DOING IT. And they’re loving it.
Did you know my 5-year-old tells us which train stop we need to get off at, based on where we’re going? Did you know my 2-year-old can say “thank you” in three languages?
Therefore, I’ve come to the conclusion: complete experiential knowledge can only be gained by GOING and DOING. Why do we have exchange students? Because that is one of the most effective ways of learning. Because rich, historical culture must be experienced to be fully appreciated. Because there’s no substitute for getting lost in places we’ve never been, tasting foods we’ve never eaten, and bonding with people and cultures we’ve never come in contact with before.
Bringing cultural heritage to the table
Even before we started traveling, we made a point of preparing authentic meals from other cultures at home. We made Brazilian, Turkish, German, Indian, Spanish, and many other cuisines. As a family, we enjoy the diversity of the flavors and experiences associated with each people group.
One of our favorites is Italian. Pastas, sauces… An explosion of flavor from one of the richest heritages. We always try several brands in attempts to get as close to the cuisine’s origins as possible, and have had a hard time finding one more authentic than Bertolli—which has an incredible history in addition to its culinary perfection.
Over 150 years ago, in the little town of Lucca, Italy, Francesco Bertolli began selling olive oil, wine, cheese, and olives that were local to his region. Soon after, Italian immigrants to America wrote to Bertolli asking for crates of olive oil, as they were unable to find many of the products they loved in this new land. Bertolli became the first exporter of olive oil when he responded to these requests with shipments.
Since then, Bertolli has expanded to include a wide range of sauces and skillet meals, but more incredulous—after all this time, the original “Villa Bertolli” at piazza S. Donato still stands—just as Bertolli is still at the center of Italian meals made and enjoyed by families around the world.
As you’re cooking up your next Italian masterpiece, let Bertolli be at the heart of it.
Save $1.50 on your next bottle of the incredible Bertolli Riserva (or any other amazing Bertolli sauce) with this coupon, and learn more about the Italian culture that influences many of the traditions we enjoy today.