I grew up at a time that offered girls few career choices, none of which appealed to me. Those were not my favorite years. It was a challenging time for girls and I just didn’t know where I fit.

But pure luck was around the corner when I landed a job working for a small airline that offered travel benefits, which felt like an extended hand to an open map. As a young person, I couldn’t rub two nickels together but was having fun cracking open a strange new world. Global travel was beginning to dramatically transform this Midwestern girl into a curious adult who couldn’t wait to see what each new day might bring.

I left those airline days after twenty years, but my globe trekking was far from over. In fact, it had just begun. I’m intrigued by places that are culturally distinct, destinations that are ripped from the pages of National Geographic.

I travel alone, though always with a local guide for safety and access. My journeys include faraway places that most people would likely never visit and some locations they might struggle to find on a map. Because these kinds of adventures are challenging, I spend a lot of time praying for electricity, hot water and sit-down toilets. I’m not drawn to areas of conflict, but because I’ve been to countless remote and isolated locations, I’ve stumbled onto some precarious situations.

As my solo trips progressed, my wanderlust, which began as my own personal window and mirror, was growing into something much broader. Something transformational was happening; I was turning passion into purpose and setting a place for myself at a new table.

So, after all these years, I felt it was about time to put my travel experiences in one place – into a memoir. Opening My Cultural Lens includes many of my global adventures and photographs, as well as some humorous situations I stepped into along the way.

I have benefited from so many of our planet’s incredible gifts and have met the most unforgettable people. Yet, it’s what those strangers have taught me that has opened my own aperture and given my life more texture, more meaning. These cultural experiences have collectively changed me from an indifferent young girl into a curious global citizen.

 – Gail Shore

Book Clubs

Opening My Cultural Lens also features thought-provoking book club discussion questions that challenge our own personal beliefs and perceptions about people whose backgrounds, languages, traditions, and religions may be different than our own. And, after learning about other cultures and people illustrated in the book, how does one define — and measure — happiness?