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Many Kentuckians will never leave the continental United States in their lifetime. The majority of us probably don’t even own a passport. To some residents of the landlocked bluegrass state Florida might seem like a tropical paradise.
Last week LaRue County Middle School students were treated to a presentation by globetrotters Macie and Craig Whittington, who in 2004 completed a trip around the entire world. They visited 50 countries and 200 cities in just over a year’s time.
Macie and Craig’s travel experience made them want to spend more time getting to know each culture in depth and also gave them a glimpse of extreme poverty.
Macie is the aunt of Hodgenville resident Amy Litton.
The trip began in Kentucky taking the couple through countries such as Ireland, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, Thailand, Singapore, Australia and ended back in the US in California.
As a result of the trip the Whittington’s looked for opportunities to serve abroad and found Peace Corps suited their passions.
Macie started as just one of the 9,000 volunteers worldwide including 84 residents of Kentucky. Macie traveled to different countries promoting a better understanding of America to other countries and vice-versa.
Afterwards Macie felt changed she said, “after serving as a volunteer with the Peace Corps for two years I couldn’t go back to normal work, I needed to get around and travel and to help others that are less fortunate.”
Macie was sworn in and began work as the Director of Peace Corps in the Republic of Azerbaijan.
During her presentation of world travels students of LCMS were treated to pictures, descriptions and stories from the Whittington’s venture as well as a Q&A session.
Macie’s favorite place to visit was Thailand and though she didn’t speak the language the people were extremely accommodating and it is also home to her favorite spicy foods.
While in Moldova the Whittingtons were lucky enough to stay in a ‘middle class’ apartment complex complete with mostly running water and a semi-automatic washing/dryer.
Realizing simple things you take for granted at home can become disheartening, but when you turn around and see a McDonalds in an African desert it can be rather homey.
The LCMS students responded well to the presentation with plenty of questions and concerns, many revolving around pictures of milk being poured from a squeezable bag instead of a traditional carton.
Most inquiries were of more serious concerns. “It’s hard being away from family and friends but the rewards from this work far outweigh any negative feelings,” Macie stated. Contact with people back home isn’t impossible – via Skype and Facebook – but with unreliable or unavailable Internet access in some parts of the world contact is limited.
Long before joining up with the Peace Corps the Whittington’s had a passion for travel but since that time they’ve developed a passion for hope. “When you see a person with nothing and no hope for anything it makes you want to work even harder just to give that one person a glimpse of hope,” Macie said.