Lexington, SC - As she reaches the top of Machu Picchu and takes in the centuries-old view, one thought races to the front of Lauren E. Larmon’s mind. She can’t wait to share this experience with her students back at Lexington Middle School.
Every airline mile and passport stamp brings Larmon closer to a goal inspired by one of her high school teachers. Señor Wattenbarger, Larmon’s freshman Spanish teacher, brought lessons on art and history to life by incorporating details from his travels around the world. Today, Larmon wows students with stories of her own.
Larmon, an ESOL teacher, traveled outside of the United States for the first time at the age of 13. Her desire to travel grew with each country she visited. As a result, she now has a solid goal in her sights.
In October, Larmon plans to say “Hallo” to Norway and “Hej” to Denmark to reach the halfway mark toward joining the Travelers’ Century Club. People who have visited 100 or more countries can join TCC. Larmon hopes to follow in the footsteps of Señor Wattenbarger on the TCC list of world travelers.
“I counted all of my countries up and realized that this might be something that I could achieve,” Larmon recalled.
Larmon checked off four countries this summer, making 48 countries she’s visited so far. She trekked across Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein this August after first stopping in Cuba.
Having visited many of her ESOL students’ native countries, Larmon shares a unique connection to her students and empathizes with what they probably feel when they first arrive at school.
“Spending an extended amount of time in a new country, immersed in a new language, is pretty much the American experience that my students live every day,” she said.
Larmon wants her students to be confident in their use of multiple languages, whether they use them in their career or to travel the world. “I want to inspire my students to use language to go and do whatever they dream about in their futures,” she said.
As she closes in on 50 countries, Larmon finds it difficult to choose her favorites, though Guatemala and Slovenia rank high on her list for their awe-inspiring scenery.
“Through my travel experiences, I've learned that, regardless of culture, language, home country or race, everyone basically wants the same things in life: to be safe and successful and happy,” she reflected.