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EDUCATORS ONE-TO-ONE: BERTHA BREEN

If we were to ask you to put a list together of the top 5 ways you’d prefer to spend your summer months, your 4 over 5, or your retirement, there’s a chance that ‘travel’ would top that list. That’s because educators love to travel.

However travelling isn’t cheap – especially on an educator’s salary. That’s why many of you choose to travel with friends, or a partner/spouse — someone you can share the costs, as well as all of the experiences with.

But what happens when tragedy strikes and everything that you knew changes in an instant? Just ask Bertha Breen, whose life changed dramatically in 2009.

Here is Bertha’s story:

My husband and I had been avid travelers. Having summer holidays and winter breaks, we loved to use this time to travel to places within our own beautiful country, as well as abroad.

So when I retired in June 2008 from the Thames Valley School Board (after 32 years of teaching), I made the decision a few short months later, along with my husband, to combine my love of travelling abroad with my passion for teaching by going to South Korea to teach English. Our trip to Korea had been a way to mix travel and work in a way that would enable us to get to know the people and the culture.

Then in April 2009 my husband died in a motor vehicle accident, and our dreams of travelling and experiencing the world died with him, or so I thought.

You see, after my husband passed away, I found travelling very lonely and my sense of security greatly diminished. Furthermore, the cost of travelling single was sometimes as much as travelling as a couple, making it not very financially feasible. Then last summer, I happened upon a group of Japanese travelers who were taking in a local attraction, accompanied by a group of local residents. Being a typical teacher, always curious, I learned that they were all members of a program called the Friendship Force, an association with clubs all over the world, organized to support friendship through travel.

When I learned more about Friendship Force, I thought that perhaps this was my chance to travel again. As part of a Friendship Force club, you work with other members to host groups to come to your area, which may involve a few days or up to a week. When you wish to travel, you can join with members of your local club in setting up a trip, or you can check online to see what trips other clubs around the world are planning, and apply to travel with them.

For me, the idea of being able to travel in a group where singles and couples were welcomed seemed appealing. Also, the opportunity to stay with local people not only helped to minimize the costs associated with travelling, but opened us up to local haunts that the average tourist may never get to see, which made it all the more interesting.

When I lost my husband, my desire to travel was thwarted by fears of travelling alone and the intense loneliness of not having a companion who knew me well. But with time and healing I have learned that I am not alone — the world is still a friendly place that welcomes me to explore.

Thank so much for sharing your story with us Bertha.

Do you have your own educator-specific financial story that helped to get you through the ups and downs of everyday life? Was Educators able to help you save for a particular project or goal? Or maybe you have your own budgeting tips from an educator’s perspective?

Whether you’re actively working, or actively retired, tell us your story. Click here to share your story with us.

Looking to build up your own vacation savings? We can help.

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