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17 June 2009 - Travel Offers Great Education

I am often asked if I have a favorite hobby. If that question were put to my wife, Gloria, I'm sure her answer would be "His work is his hobby" and she would be right. But beyond that, travel would rank right at the top. I consider travel to be the best education opportunity any of us can have, and in my case I have been extremely fortunate because my work has allowed me to travel with my TV crew to all 50 states and 43 countries.

This weekend my wife and I are on an airplane with 40 of our closest friends, who we have just met at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, heading for Norway. It is our fifth tour of farms in Norway and we are looking forward to the next two weeks and getting to know farmers and their spouses from twelve states; New York, Illinois, Wyoming, Iowa, Maryland, Tennessee, Minnesota, South and North Dakota, Texas, Kentucky and Utah. While we are getting acquainted with each other, we will also meet Norwegian farmers and their families on nine different farms in southern Norway. They are way ahead of us in embracing agri-tourism and at each visit we will enjoy lunch or dinner in the farm home prepared and served by the family members. A tour of the farms will likely include a family museum because preserving the past is very important to these people.

Many of you know why I enjoy traveling to Norway; my four grandparents grew up there and came to America as young people and settled with other Norwegians in western Wisconsin. On my first trip to Norway, I found part of my roots in a small clearing in a thick forest in a narrow valley near the town of Tretten. I stood in what was left of the stone foundation of the home where my grandmother Jenny was born in 1864. It turned out to be a much more emotional moment than I could have imagined as I looked around that clearing and realized that a part of me started there.

It also helped me understand the sacrifice that many parents in Norway and other European countries made to give their children a better life across the ocean. In 1872, Jenny's parents sent her and an older brother with an adult uncle to the land of opportunity, America, knowing they would never see their children again. From 1850 to 1925 850-thousand Norwegians did just that and my visit to my roots helped me understand a great deal more about my family and the meaning of sacrifice.

So if you haven't, I would urge you if at all possible to search for your roots and take the opportunity to travel. Books and photos are nice, but being there and seeing it with your own eyes will be one of the great learning experiences of your life.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.