For campus librarian Linda Moore, books are central to her every day job — and to her foreign travels.
In a talk last Wednesday with a colorful PowerPoint presentation of travel photos, Moore recounted the highlights of her adventures to various locations, which include all 50 states, Auschwitz, the equator, and Antarctica. Last summer, she visited Indonesia, Japan, and Botswana.
Despite having a father who was “rooted to the land” and a mother who didn’t like to travel, Moore fell in love with travel thanks to a teacher she had had in high school named Pauleen.
Pauleen, she said, was a widow and a librarian who had been recently introduced to camping at the time. She invited students to travel during the summers, including to Disneyland. After her senior year, Pauleen asked Moore if she wanted to continue traveling with her and a group of other students.
“As the years went by, other kids went in and then kind of dropped off, but Pauleen and I traveled together for the next 40 odd years,” Moore said, explaining that they stopped when Pauleen turned 87 five years ago. “We’ve had a lot of wonderful trips together.”
Before telling students about her travels, Moore talked about what makes a great tour.
“For me, a mosquito net is a great, great start to a trip,” she said. “It tells me I am not in Michigan. I’m out having a great time.”
Great guides, which she said she is willing to pay a premium for, and great companionship, were essential to a great experience, as well as — in her opinion — cute or not-so-cute animals, pretty birds, interesting architecture and cultures, and natural beauty, such as the waterfalls in Iceland or the structured gardens in Japan.
As a history major and an anthropology minor in college, Moore said she liked to travel according to her interest. It varies, but many times, a book might inspire a trip, she explained.
“I wanted to see what I had read about,” Moore said. “I’ve read about it, but I’d like to see it for myself.”
Travel, said Moore, can be uncomfortable, not only from sitting on a plane for a long time but also because of what emotions can be provoked. The Auschwitz camp, for example, was difficult.
“I don’t think anyone wants to go to Auschwitz,” Moore said. “I think people should go to Auschwitz … you had the stacks and mountains of shoes, you had the human hair, the luggage of people who thought they were going someplace and didn’t realize that this was the end of the line. So it’s a very tough place to go emotionally.”
She said the head of the museum at Auschwitz was Polish and had been himself a prisoner at the camp. He had been arrested for disseminating anti-Nazi literature, and he had been one of the first to enter and one of the last to leave the camp. He also testified at the Nuremberg trials and witnessed the hanging of the commandant of Auschwitz.
Another emotionally tough stop was Pearl Harbor, where she stopped at the site of the U.S.S. Arizona. She said she was shocked at how much was still above water, and was also at first indignant to see Japanese tourists.
“I can remember being kind of resentful … how can you show up years later?” she said. “Then I go to Japan and go to Hiroshima.”
Going to Hiroshima was something she recognized as an uncomfortable place for Americans to go, but she said like Auschwitz, Hiroshima is necessary to visit to recognize that all actions have consequences on real people.
She also described how exciting travel can be, showing the students and faculty videos and photos of a tribe in Indonesia, elephants, lions, hippos, and orangutans. She added that you learned all sorts of things that were different from what Americans do, namely something she called “left and right confusion.”
“For Americans, the most unusual thing is people driving on what we consider to be the wrong side of the road, and it causes no end of amusement to bus drivers when Americans insist on sitting on the right-hand side of the bus when the door’s on the left,” she said.
Out of all the trips she had taken, she narrowed her favorites to five: Antarctica, where she sailed with humpback whales, China, where she had interesting interactions with the locals, St. Petersburg, where she saw the caskets of the Romanov family, Egypt, and any wildlife tour.
Sophomore Adriana Maljanian said she loved the way Moore connects books with her travels.
“As someone who loves to read and travel, I found Ms. Moore’s stories very exciting,” Maljanian said in an email. “I really appreciate the attention she gives to the connections she makes with books and the places she visits, as that is something I hope to do soon in my travels!”
Sophomore Jaime Boerema said she thinks it is valuable to learn about formative experiences in other people’s lives.
“I was really fascinated by the vast spectrum of travel experiences Mrs. Moore has had the privilege of undertaking,” Boerema said in an email. “The many cultures and climates she has seen are truly amazing.”