About your guide
I have long been a student of Italy and France, their languages and history. My upbringing was in a small Waldensian community founded in part by Waldensian, French and Swiss Protestant immigrants who left Europe in the late 1800s and made their way, via South America, to the countryside of southern Missouri, in the United States. My Waldensian ancestors spoke a variation of Occitans, the old language of southern France, even though they lived outside France on the Italian side of the border. I have been fortunate to learn the French and Italian languages and to learn more of my ancestors' homeland during the times that I studied and traveled there, sometimes alone and often with groups of Americans that I've led in adventures similar to the ones we're planning for the next few months.
I teach Latin American history on-line for a U.S. college, and teach short-term courses for a number of U.S. colleges and universities that send their students to Argentina and Uruguay during breaks in the school year. I think of myself, in fact, as another "porteño," or resident of Buenos Aires (a city very heavily populated by Italians). I have taken large groups of Italians on tours throughout the United States, and several small groups of Americans, many of whom were others with Waldensian or Huguenot ancestry, to Europe.
Taking groups of people to France, Italy, Switzerland is a great learning opportunity for me as much as for my travel companions. My graduate work was in history, and I've coordinated overseas educational programs for many years, so these programs in Europe are part of my professional life. I want you to learn—there is much that we can learn about ourselves and our own culture by seeing another country and its people first-hand. I also want you to have a good time—there are beautiful sights to see, great food to sample and fascinating people to meet all across these countries. And I want you to be safe—I will do all I can to keep you from misadventure and your belongings from loss. You will have a lot to look at while you're traveling, and I want you to enjoy as much as possible and to be safe while doing so. Don't hesitate to contact me by e-mail or by phone. I would be happy to tell you more about our plans.
Mark McMeley, PhD
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