So high, NYC.

Last year, I went to Bard College, in the Hudson Valley, for a semester as an exchange student (it was awesome, but that’s another story). It gave me the opportunity to stay a few weeks in New York City. A city I’ve visited with my family, with my friends, by myself; a city I loved (and still love).

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What about teleportation?

For some reason – and it’s been the case for a while now – I can’t spend more than 6 months with no trip planned ahead. I guess this urge to travel, to go away, to run head first in the unknown comes from my family: half of my family is Italian, my mom grew up in Africa, my aunt lives in a city stuck between a desert and a sea, my brother lived in the USA while I was in London … And ever since I was a kid, the four of us would always travel somewhere new and exciting for the holidays, Norway and its never ending (and way too cold – I was crazy at 8) fjords, gorgeous Italy, Greece and its ancient wonders, or mind-blowing Egypt! I am blessed I got to see all these amazing countries and discover these wonderful cultures thanks to my parents. And very quickly I started traveling alone, with my brother, with my friends. And the list’s been growing longer and longer: Dubai, Scotland, Shanghai, USA, … So much more, and yet, still not enough. I don’t really know why, but I want to see it all. Pictures are not enough, I want to be there, watch it with my own eyes, scrutinize what’s around the Taj Mahal, the Machu Picchu, or the Sydney Opera House. I want to meet people from the other side of the world – to see if it makes any difference to walk with my head down. I want to live multiple lives.

I am not running away from anything or anyone. At least, I don’t feel like I do. I love my family, my friends – even though I haven’t seen some of them for a while – and I will miss them so much during this adventure. Sometimes, even, I’m sure we will feel like we’ve been insane to have ever left them. I hope we won’t feel that way too much though! I enjoy my life here, and I love what I’m studying too: examining languages and discovering the oldest literary texts are in themselves a great adventure (this was my Indiana Jones moment). But this didn’t seem enough. That’s why next week, we are buying our plane tickets! There might be some slight changes in our journey, we will let you know more once this is done.

The funny thing is that although I love traveling, I simply can’t stand the idea of having to take any kind of transportation. Mostly trains and planes. I am not afraid of an accident or a crash, no. About that, I’m more like, Well, if it has to happen (not saying I don’t care, but what can you do in that kind of situation? It’s enough to freak out when it’s happening)… What’s really panicking me is the idea of missing my flight or my train for any stupid reason (subway incident, passport forgotten, any kind of trouble at customs… anything, really). I always get to the airport or the station way too early, just in case – but I don’t mind, I enjoy sitting down and just watching people (I know you do the same!). At the airport, I check my gate on every single screen, every 5 minutes. When I get in my train, I check 72 times I got into the right one (I ask to someone, I look at my neighbor’s ticket, I ask again …). I think I will have to work on that, because I know our trip is going to be full of surprises!

So, yeah, all this just to say I’m a little bit freaked out by the fact that we don’t have our plane tickets yet. And that explains (for most part) why I’ve been kind of absent-minded lately, and stressed out, and not really present with you, my friends! But hey, this step is nearly over: Thursday, I will be free to worry about something else!

What about teleportation?

For some reason – and it’s been the case for a while now – I can’t spend more than 6 months with no trip planned ahead. I guess this urge to travel, to go away, to run head first in the unknown comes from my family: half of my family is Italian, my mom grew up in Africa, my aunt lives in a city stuck between a desert and a sea, my brother lived in the USA while I was in London … And ever since I was a kid, the four of us would always travel somewhere new and exciting for the holidays, Norway and its never ending (and way too cold – I was crazy at 8) fjords, gorgeous Italy, Greece and its ancient wonders, or mind-blowing Egypt! I am blessed I got to see all these amazing countries and discover these wonderful cultures thanks to my parents. And very quickly I started traveling alone, with my brother, with my friends. And the list’s been growing longer and longer: Dubai, Scotland, Shanghai, USA, … So much more, and yet, still not enough. I don’t really know why, but I want to see it all. Pictures are not enough, I want to be there, watch it with my own eyes, scrutinize what’s around the Taj Mahal, the Machu Picchu, or the Sydney Opera House. I want to meet people from the other side of the world – to see if it makes any difference to walk with my head down. I want to live multiple lives.

I am not running away from anything or anyone. At least, I don’t feel like I do. I love my family, my friends – even though I haven’t seen some of them for a while – and I will miss them so much during this adventure. Sometimes, even, I’m sure we will feel like we’ve been insane to have ever left them. I hope we won’t feel that way too much though! I enjoy my life here, and I love what I’m studying too: examining languages and discovering the oldest literary texts are in themselves a great adventure (this was my Indiana Jones moment). But this didn’t seem enough. That’s why next week, we are buying our plane tickets! There might be some slight changes in our journey, we will let you know more once this is done.

The funny thing is that although I love traveling, I simply can’t stand the idea of having to take any kind of transportation. Mostly trains and planes. I am not afraid of an accident or a crash, no. About that, I’m more like, Well, if it has to happen (not saying I don’t care, but what can you do in that kind of situation? It’s enough to freak out when it’s happening)… What’s really panicking me is the idea of missing my flight or my train for any stupid reason (subway incident, passport forgotten, any kind of trouble at customs… anything, really). I always get to the airport or the station way too early, just in case – but I don’t mind, I enjoy sitting down and just watching people (I know you do the same!). At the airport, I check my gate on every single screen, every 5 minutes. When I get in my train, I check 72 times I got into the right one (I ask to someone, I look at my neighbor’s ticket, I ask again …). I think I will have to work on that, because I know our trip is going to be full of surprises!

So, yeah, all this just to say I’m a little bit freaked out by the fact that we don’t have our plane tickets yet. And that explains (for most part) why I’ve been kind of absent-minded lately, and stressed out, and not really present with you, my friends! But hey, this step is nearly over: Thursday, I will be free to worry about something else!

Sad news.

Andrew’s speaking :

Unfortunately, due to changing circumstances I will be unable to accompany Janyce and Erika on their travels, but I will continue to offer them my full encouragement and support.

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Hey, we know it’s a huge commitment to make, and we get that sometimes, other priorities come in the way. We’re sad we lost our man, but the project’s still on! Well, we have an open spot now: anyone interested in traveling around?

The Stories of King Midas

Enjoy the stories that remind us of King Midas’ foolishness, as written by Andrew, and illustrated by Janyce, that we told at Bard College during the Symposium last May, while we keep on searching for partners willing to help our project. I hope you’ll like it as much as the children!

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This is a story from a time when gods walked on earth and looked as human as you or I. They spoke to people, and gave them gifts, and sometimes they punished them. Other times the gifts they gave were more punishment than gift…

Once upon a time, there was a mighty king named Midas, about whom two stories are told.
Midas ruled a rich and powerful kingdom, and lived in a beautiful palace. He lived a comfortable life with every kind of enjoyment, but he was never satisfied. Always Midas wished for more, more, more. Once upon a time, he got his chance to have it.

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Our First Try

On May 3rd 2011, thanks to the support of Bard College Classics department, we had the chance to present our project to the faculty and students, as part of the Bard Ancient Studies Symposium. With the Classics professors’ help, we were able to set it up, and to find three children, aged respectively five, seven and ten years old willing to participate in an interactive experience. In front of an audience of approximately 25, we first explained our project and its objectives. This presentation was followed by a try out of what we are actually planning to do when we meet with classes around the world.

Thus Andrew told the myth he had prepared to the children and the audience: the two stories of King Midas. This exciting narrative was illustrated by our artwork, showing our own interpretation of the myth. We had a drawing for each story, and a few others used to explain the meaning of some specific words to the children: a satyr, a lyre, a panpipe …

When the storytelling was over – King Midas’ shameful secret being revealed to the world, we encouraged the children to choose a story they knew and to take 20 minutes to get inspired by it to make a drawing. We also invited the audience to participate in this drawing session, and were really glad to see everyone take a pen or a crayon to join the activity.

After a very creative and inspiring art session, we invited the children to become the storytellers: and they dived in this role with no embarrassment, and a lot of enthusiasm. The younger boy drew, with the help of an adult, an episode of Homer’s Odyssey, before he told us a poem about this epic,

the seven-year-old girl chose the story of Daphne and Apollo,

                                                                                                                                               and the oldest child offered an inspired version of the myth of Icarus.

All of these stories were based on wonderful drawings.

As it was a school night, the children left early, but this was not the end of the Symposium: some members of the audience were eager to share their stories with everyone. And we heard amazing interpretations of Cinderella, the myth of Phaeton, some family foundation stories, or a funny German story.

From our, the children’s and the audience’s point of view, this night was a success, full of beautiful artwork and inspiring stories. This gives us great hopes for the actual journey!

Once Upon A Time …

… three students sharing the same dream: to revive the myths and legends of the world. One day, they decided to make this dream come true, and that’s how this incredible project was created. Let’s travel the world and share these stories we love so much with children, and listen to these natural-born storytellers narrate their own myths.
When you read these pages, you will follow the adventures of the Three Balladeers, and live with them the amazing storytelling experience along the trip. Welcome on Erika’s, Andrew’s and Janyce’s journal!

The trip will begin on July 2012, but the year to come, when we prepare for this colossal project, will be an expedition on its own. We will keep you updated on our progress until you get on board with us on this wonderful journey.