Kevai Lewis, cub writer
With two classrooms, five subjects and years of teaching behind her, art teacher Melony Bronder has become a master at juggling activities, and this extends outside of the classroom. Since she was 16, Bronder has been traveling around the world, juggling travel and teaching.
Her years of traveling has had a major impact on the way she chooses to teach her students and the goals that she has set for them. Unlike in other subjects, teaching art allows Bronder to focus on more than just proficiency.
“My goals are more: you step outside your comfort zone, you try something new, you experiment with creativity and you push yourself,” Bronder said.
This mentality started at a young age, with the influence of her grandparents.
“They used to have a map in their house with hundreds of pins placed in it of where they had been. They had been to every continent including Antarctica,” Bronder said.
Bronder had always been surrounded with the idea of seeing the world.
“There are family stories about when they were in the air force, like when my grandma went to India for a weekend and she went down to the kitchen of the hotel she was staying at and taught them how to make potato chips by hand because she was like, ‘We have a craving.’ They just did crazy, fun things,” Bronder said.
Bronder was finally involved in the family hobby when she was 16 years old, and that is when she was bit by the travel bug.
“Me dad found tickets for $250 round trip to Paris… and we went there for Christmas, and it was magical. It was like ‘holy crap, I didn’t know places like this could exist,’” Bronder said, “and I immediately didn’t want to live in Lima, Ohio anymore.”
This was just the start. In college, Bronder decided to study abroad in Italy. Twice. Her first trip was three months, and the second was extended to five. After college, the trend continued.
Brazil, Australia, Morocco, Turkey, Thailand, and about 30 more destinations scattered in between, Bronder has made it a mission to travel whenever she has the chance. Whether it be with family, or friends who are “more than willing”, Bronder makes her way through the different countries.
“This last summer I went to Japan, and London, and Scotland, and Ohio, of course,” Bronder said, “Random. I’ve just been to random places all over.”
Experiences in all of the destinations have varied, of course.
“I felt really calm all of Japan. Everyone is really quiet and there are signs everywhere that say to be quiet… and it was kinda nice and everything was just very peaceful there,” Bronder said.
From scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef to mountain climbing in Scotland, Bronder has made sure to involve herself in the beauties of the landscapes she gets to see, but her true passion is in the life of the communities.
“I feel like, if I don’t get to experience what it’s really like for everyone else and wander a city, that I didn’t really do it,” Bronder said.
However, doing anything as often as Bronder travels can have its downs along with all of it’s spectacular ups. An event, that Bronder can recall with ease, is when she had her things stolen when she was traveling alone in the Netherlands.
“I was getting on a train. I had my backpack and my purse, and I took my backpack off with my purse touching me and I put my backpack above and I look down and my purse was gone,” Bronder said.
Without a passport, phone, wallet, or ticket for the train, Bronder had to find a way to get from New Zealand to Italy to catch her flight that was in two days, and that is when the community around her stepped in.
“I got a passport the next morning… and I got a flight out,” Bronder said. “It restored my faith in humanity because even a random dude from Malaysia gave me money to buy my new passport…Everyone was just so nice. The majority of the people wanted to help me and tried so hard.”
Experiences like these are what truly come back with Bronder when she returns home.
“Traveling makes you more open. Nobody is going to be the same everywhere. Everybody has different ideas and values, things that are important to them,” Bronder said, “I think it makes me a better teacher because I can say ‘that’s not important to you and that’s okay’.”
This is not the only benefit of traveling, either.
“Apparently, a short trip is not only good for your peace of mind, but quality of life as well. The association reports things like blood pressure, heart rate and levels of epinephrine (a stress hormone) rapidly decline after just one to two days on vacation,” Elite Daily reporter said.
Bronder, excitingly, sees no need to slow down either, as she plans her next summer of traveling.
“My top ones that I haven’t done, that I really want to do, are Ireland… Egypt… Russia, and Machu Picchu,” Bronder said.
Bronder believes everyone should travel when they can, and has a plethora of tips for when you do.
“Sometimes you don’t need a picture. You just need to enjoy it, and live in that moment,” Bronder said, “and keep your purse on you at all times.”