By Donna Bulseco
July 17, 2019 11:24 am ET, Wall Street Journal
VACATIONS TO FAR-FLUNG destinations let families experience other cultures, but “expanding your horizons” can be a tough sell when your brood includes a teen or two. Activities that delight a wide-eyed adolescent may appall a churlish elder sibling; teasing and bickering ensue, and Mom gets a migraine. Plus, ﬁtting some R & R into a week of cultural immersion isn’t the easiest equation to ﬁnesse.
That was the challenge for physicians Neelesh and Kimberly Mehendale, both 47, who live in Dallas with their two teenagers. They turned to travel operator Global CommUnity for getaways to Italy, Patagonia and India. “As parents, we see how trips give us a microcosm [of] the culture that ﬁts our work/life schedule,” said Mr. Mehendale. The Nashville-based Global CommUnity organizes itineraries ﬁlled with activities appealing to tweens or teenagers. The socially conscious programs might include studying biodiversity while assisting beekeepers in a town outside Paris, or camping in geodesic domes in Peru while learning how to leave a smaller footprint on the planet.
The Mehendale teens liked how the social interactions with the locals felt natural, not forced. “The day we visited a Sikh temple, we helped volunteers serve roti to people who can’t ﬁnd food,” said 15-year-old Leena. Raja, who is 13, found the opportunity to meet Italians at a family-style dinner on an olive oil farm near Florence satisfying, especially the soccer he got to play with the local kids while the adults discussed World War II history over tiramisu and limoncello.