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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

MY DAUGHTER AND I are going with Heritage Ballet to visit Milan, Paris and Copenhagen in February. Eight kids and four adults are going for 14 days.  The purpose of the trip is to study ballet in the three countries (we will go to a ballet in each city) and the kids will take ballet lessons at the Pavlova International Ballet School in Bergamo. We will also do lots of sightseeing and will be staying in hostels where we will likely meet travellers from around the world.

The kids have been fundraising and getting prepared for the past year and now the trip is 16 days away. We are so excited. It has been such a great learning experience for my daughter as she has volunteered at many bake sales, car washes, spaghetti dinners, etc., to raise money to cover her costs.  She has learned about saving, goal setting and working hard for something you want to do. It has been a great experience and we haven’t even left the country yet.

At this point, we are focused on learning a bit about the countries we will be visiting. Madeline is especially excited to go to Copenhagen because we have a friend (a former Rotary exchange student, Armita Afshari, who was here in Haliburton in 1997 - the picture above is of Armita) we are going to see.  Copenhagen is a very interesting place to read and learn about. Denmark has been ranked many times as the happiest nation in the world.  A recent survey was done for the first-ever World Happiness Report, commissioned for the UN Conference on Happiness, in April 2012.  “The 158-page report, published by the Earth Institute … found that the happiest countries are all in Northern Europe – Denmark, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands,” the website for the country of Denmark reads.  “The life evaluation score takes a range of factors into account including political freedom, government corruption, health, and family and job security. According to the findings in the report, it is not just wealth that makes people happy,” it reads.   I always read these things with a grain of salt and I have to wonder if Haliburton was included in the survey. But I do think it is interesting to consider how a culture of happiness is fostered and developed and aspired to. It is something I think we all want.

When Armita lived with my husband and I, I remember her talking about how socializing and being with friends was more important than owning a big house or big car in Denmark.  She also talked to us about the fact that in Copenhagen, people are very environmentally conscious. Thirty-five per cent of people in Copenhagen ride their bikes to work – that is 500,000 daily cyclists!  Armita talked about how they take care of their seniors, everyone can go to university and that Danes pay high taxes.  So there are tradeoffs.

This kind of travel is so educational for my daughter and I look forward to learning about Denmark and the other countries while I am there. I know I’ll be having a very happy time!

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