Tag Archives: Travel

Lisa Lubin-writer, producer, world traveler

On the eve of my first overseas adventure, I thought I’d share a story I wrote on former Columbia teacher and current world traveler extraordinaire Lisa Lubin.  You can follow Lisa on LLWorldTour.com.

Lisa Lubin refers to the future as L.A.W.T., life after the world tour. “As the months tick by I do think about what the heck I will do,” she says. But after a life like Lubin’s how much more exciting could it get?

Lubin is a former Columbia College television professor and was a specials producer in the programming department for ABC7 in Chicago for 9 years. She produced several weekly shows, most notably “190 North” a program focusing on Chicago entertainment, trends, and style. During her time at ABC, she was nominated for an Emmy 10 times, winning three of them.

Then she left it all to travel the world.

Lubin has visited 312 cities in 45 countries, that’s 22% of the world. Starting in October of 2006 Lubin traveled to South America, then to New Zealand and Australia, then up through Asia and over to Europe and the Middle East. She documented it all on her website, LLWorldtour.com.

“I have always loved traveling. Since I was little I loved exploring new towns and places. I would ride my bike down new streets mesmerized by something I’d never seen before,” said Lubin.

Lubin’s passion for travel was just as clear to her coworkers.

“No one was really surprised when she decided to travel. She talked about it for a long time,” said Cathy Vlahgiannis, who worked with Lubin at ABC.

“She is one of the most secure people I know and I thought it was a terrific idea,” said Frank Bianco, who hired Lubin to teach the “Creating the News Package Class” at Columbia College.

The travel bug bit Lubin after she backpacked through Europe after college. Since then, she’s made a promise to herself that she would travel “somewhere far away” every year. She stuck to her promise, but the longest she’d ever been away was three weeks. So how did she make the jump from occasional vacationer to yearlong world traveler?

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Spring Break

Today we had a planning meeting for the Alternative Spring Break trip to New Orleans. ReachOut, an on campus service group at Columbia, has been going since the year after Katrina trying to help rebuild the damage done by the storm.

I’ve been to New Orleans and the surrounding area of Louisiana a few times. We have close family friends who moved down there and opened a fabulous restaurant (shout out to Taste of Bavaria!). My mom and I were actually in New Orleans a few days before Katrina hit. We cut our trip off early to avoid driving back through the rain.

I went with the group last year for the first time. It was an amazing experience and I had a blast.

While there I worked with the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, removing invasive species from the wild life. We worked at the Center and also went to National Parks to help clean up the area. It was amazing how much was destroyed not only by the storm but by the invasive plant species that would literally crush trees and take over ponds. It was a lot of fun working outside and learning about the plant life native to the marshes.

We also worked at Miss Bessie Montgomery’s house.

Miss Bessie

Miss Bessie

Miss Bessie lives in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. She cares for her nephew Jesse, who is severely mentally handicapped. Miss Bessie lost everything in the flood, the water reached the second floor of her home. Her insurance refused to cover the damage, saying the levee breaking was “an act of God.” Since Katrina, Miss Bessie and Jesse have been living in their FEMA trailer in Hammond, about 30 minutes away from New Orleans.

ReachOut helped build what we could. We managed to side, caulk, and paint three sides of her house. It was the most work done in three years. But the house still wasn’t livable (it didn’t have plumbing so we had to use the neighbors bathroom when we worked).

Miss Bessie cried when we showed her how much we had done. Art students usually don’t make the best carpenters but we sure did try.

Well we’re going back to Miss Bessie’s this year. Hopefully to build on what we’ve started.

We’ll also be working with AmeriCorps & City Year, Boys Hope Girls Hope, Second Harvest Food Bank, Jefferson Parish Juvenile Services (Rivarde School), Hospice Care of Lousiana, and St. Bernard’s Battered Women’s Shelter.

We’ll be staying at Camp Hope in St. Bernard Parish from March 23rd to the 28th.

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January 20th, 2009

Dawn on Inauguration Day
Dawn on Inauguration Day

It’s usually not going to be a good day when you wake up at 4am. But today was January 20th, 2008. A day when the dreams of so many would be realized with the Inauguration of the first African American President of the United States. I’d like to say I hopped out of bed rearing and ready to go.


But I didn’t. I’m a human and it was about 12 degrees out this morning. That’s damn cold. It’s really damn cold when you have to walk 2.3 miles to an open field to stand around for about 4 hours. I switched off the alarm and went back to bed.

Awaking at 5:45ish, I was still not welcoming the morning. But I understood that we had to leave now if we wanted a chance to get remotely close to the viewing screens. So, at 6:15, my roommate Melissa and I set out for the Capitol Building with more layers of clothing on than anyone should ever have to endure. It’s quite the hike, mostly downhill, but we made it there just as the sun was rising over the Nation’s capitol.  And we weren’t there alone.

After scoping out a spot it was time to hurry up and wait. Wait for 4 hours. In near freezing temperatures. Did I mention we had to wait 4 hours?

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A Call to Service with Colin Powell

The General

General Colin Powell should be scary. He is a four star general in the US Army where he served for 35 years. He was the first African American to be on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was National Security Advisor to Ronald Reagan.  He was Secretary of State for Bush 43’s first term. And he has a Purple Heart (this is the abridged version of his accomplishments, go here for the full). Mr. Powell should have scared the living daylights out of those who gathered to see him Sunday morning.

7,000 gathered at University of Maryland

7,000 gathered at University of Maryland

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Luke Russert

Luke Russert, son of the late Tim Russert, gave a keynote address during our welcome party Saturday night.

Welcome Party

Clearly it was a packed house. More than 1,000 people packed. And all of us were hungry. Someone made a disparaging remark involving cattle that I refuse to repeat here. Although it was hilarious at the time.


Russert was a great way to start off the week. He’s not too political and remembers what it was like to be a college student (He graduated from Boston College last year). He mentioned beer quite a bit and even offered to buy a round for those eligible. He was an instant hit.

But he also touched on topics more serious and profound. The youth vote was huge this past election year and Russert made the assertion that without it, without us, Barack Obama would not have been elected President. Without the higher youth voter turnout, Obama wouldn’t have won the key states like Iowa and Indiana, giving those votes to McCain.

All in all, it was a good night. A little crowded but that’s to be expected.


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Planes are for the birds.

It’s an equally comforting and disconcerting feeling knowing that the Mayor of Chicago is on your flight. Comforting because surely the plane won’t crash with such an important person on board. Disconcerting because… well it’s Richard Daley.

I put off boarding the plane as long as possible and was rewarded with a brief conversation with Mr. Mayor himself. I almost didn’t recognize him. Wearing a beige trench coat with brown fedora, he looked like any other windy citizen. Truth is, the entire thing was rather unremarkable. He was just standing around discussing the weather in Washington with a friend and a flight attendant.

He seemed to think it was always humid and damp here because of the Potomac RiverClearly he’s never spent July in Chicago.

The flight attendant brought up the recent plane crash into the Hudson River and how amazing the whole ordeal was. We all commented on the bravery of the pilot and that it’s a miracle no one was seriously injured.

The cause of the crash? Birds being sucked into the engine. I asked if they put anything on the fields to deter birds from being there and he said they couldn’t by law.  The flight attendant and friend suggested putting a grate over the engine, stopping the birds from getting in. Daley’s answer was much more simple and much more Daley.
“Ah, just kill ‘em all.”

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‘Twas the night before Washington…

and everything was stirring.

My nose is running, my dog is acting squirrel-y, and my mother is packing (it’s for the best, she was a checker at the A&P as a teenager. She can fit things in small spaces like you wouldn’t believe).

The weather looks promising, I’m hoping for no plane delays.  Although, I’m very fond of airports and flying. I actually don’t look at being stranded at the terminal as a bad thing. Strange, I know.

They’ve just updated the itinerary for the scheduled speakers. I’ll also be enjoying  the words of Luke Russert, son of the late great Tim Russert. Tim anchored NBC’s Meet the Press for 16 years and is considered to be one of the greatest television journalists of all time. His son gave a touching eulogy at his fathers funeral and has quickly become NBC’s golden child. I look forward to hearing what he has to say.

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