Pick a few questions that spark your interest.

  1. If you’ve read Ivy Lodge, why do you think the author chose to write this second memoir, to follow it up with another memoir? Was there unfinished business she wanted to cover?
  2. The narrator goes through a number of changes as a result of her various trips. If you’ve traveled, do you feel like your trips have changed you at all? If so, how?
  3. Why do you think the narrator has to leave home, her comfort zone, in order to find herself?
  4. If you could go to any of the places mentioned in this memoir, where would you go, if the circumstances were the same as those the narrator writes about?
  5. Which of the circumstances in which the narrator finds herself would be the most challenging for you? Which would you find the easiest to tackle?
  6. Would you have done anything differently if you’d been instructed, for example, to go to Kenya following a terrorist bombing of the US Embassy? Or to go to the Democratic Republic of Congo during a war? How do you draw the line between personal safety and the requirements of one’s job?
  7. How much of a difference do you think it makes to travel somewhere when you do/don’t know the language that is spoken there? How does it change the trip?
  8. Do you think being a linguist/translator is an overrated or underrated profession? Do you think IA or machine translations can take the place of flesh and blood people doing the work? Why? Why not?
  9. Have you studied any foreign languages? If so, what were the specific challenges you experienced? Do you think we’re not foreign language-oriented enough in this country, often expecting others to speak English?
  10. What do you think the narrator’s life would have been like if she’d stayed in her hometown? Do you think she would have adjusted to that life, or would she have been forever unhappy? Thoreau said that most people lead lives of quiet desperation? Do you agree with that? If not, why not?