FCS Professionals Member Karen Smith brings us this month’s feature travel article. Thank you Karen!
Five years ago, our youngest daughter, Kayla, came home from school as a 9th grader and said she wanted to be a foreign exchange student. She had big dreams of studying abroad while in high school. She continued to pursue her dream the next two years researching potential organizations to go with and countries to live. Our family decided to host an exchange student, so she could see first hand what it is like to get off a plane, meet a family for the first time whom you would live with for several months. Kayla continued to be passionate about her dream of being a foreign exchange student. We helped her choose the Rotary Exchange program. She selected the Faroe Islands as her #1 choice and would be an exchange student her senior year of high school. At 17 years of age, we took her to the airport to go to a country we had never heard of a few months earlier and did not know anyone who had ever been there.
When Kayla told us she wanted to live in the Faroe Islands, we thought they were warm, tropical islands. Instead, the islands lie northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway. The 18 islands have weather that is maritime and quite changeable, from moments of brilliant sunshine to misty hill fog, to showers. Faroese is the national language and is rooted in Old Norse. The fishing industry is the most important source of income for the Faroese people. The total population is only around 50,000 people with more sheep living on the islands than people.
National Geographic conducted a survey of 111 island communities throughout the world. A panel of 522 well-traveled experts in sustainable tourism assessed the islands, rating them on a list of the most unspoiled. Faroe Islands came out on top as the most appealing destination in the world. “Lovely unspoiled islands–a delight to the traveler” the islands earned high marks for preservation of nature, historic architecture, and local pride.
Our family decided to visit Kayla last June while she was there to meet the families she stayed with, meet her friends, and see the beautiful islands. What an incredible trip! One of the highlights was a day spent on the island of Mykines. We hiked for the day, seeing unbelievable landscape and even had the chance to get close to wild puffins! We stayed with one of her host families while there. They took off time from work and showed us their homeland each day! This country was unlike anything I have ever seen and I was blown away by the breathtaking landscapes. I am thankful that not only my daughter had the opportunity to experience the culture and beauty of the Faroe Islands but my family did too.