I have always found traveling to be both a fun and educational experience for me and my children. Sure, you get to see fascinating places, taste exotic food, and stay in cushy hotels (sometimes). But more than that, traveling brings history and geography to life. Standing on the very ground where an important battle took place and changed the fate of an entire country… seeing clay jars made by people who lived thousands of years ahead of us… those lessons are seared into our memories much more effectively than the often lifeless words in a textbook.
Most of all, traveling teaches us that we are all citizens of one world, no matter what our color, language or creed. Traveling breaks cultural stereotypes. There’s something about meeting and interacting with people whose lives are very different from ours that enables us to genuinely accept each other and have compassion for our fellow human beings. Traveling shows how we are different from each other, but also how much we are all the same: craving love, acceptance, peace and happiness.
But what’s a parent to do when travel is simply out of the budget? Books are fine, but in today’s television generation, video is even better. I was pleasantly surprised to be introduced to The Little Travelers DVDs recently. The DVDs are created by Angelina Hart, a single mother whose extreme wanderlust had brought her to as many countries as her age by the time she was 29 years old!
The Little Travelers shows the point of view of Hart’s daughters, Chantelle and Nakia, as they traipse around the globe with their Mom. Hart herself shoots the footages – yes, she is the one-man crew of this production while being a Mom at the same time. If you’ve ever flown across time zones with kids in tow, you know this is a big challenge. Try producing a commercial video at the same time!
Don’t expect slick production techniques, or even a thought-out treatment or sequence guide for that matter (I worked in children’s television in my past life, by the way). Hart’s objective in producing the DVDs is authenticity more than entertainment. She wants to show her children discovering new places and new cultures so the DVDs are mostly from the children’s point of view.
The Little Travelers is not your usual travelogue. The content is free-flowing. You get the usual videos of the country’s tourist sites, food, music and dance. You’ll also see Chantell and Nakia learning stories for children, trying on the country’s national costumes, and making friends.
I suspect there is very little direction going on. The result is a very natural documentation of two children exploring new worlds. Because Hart has a background in child development, she is able to bring out the natural inquisitiveness and curiosity of her children through the DVDs. The result is a lot of fun – kind of like watching a family friend’s travel videos. I would have liked to see more about the lives of children in the places they’re visiting.
We can’t always afford to bring our children to other countries. Well, we don’t have to leave our living rooms to introduce our children to such faraway places as Bali in Indonesia, Japan and the British Isles. Hart and her daughters spend months in various countries year round, so we can expect DVDs about other countries soon.
I am looking forward to those DVDs. I’d also like to see how Hart’s children grow and develop, since they are being raised as true global children.
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