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Rebecca Webster/Recorder staff Florence Grimm, right, speaks to attendees Thursday during the kick-off to the Spring Travelogue and Culture Talks at the Amsterdam Free Library.

Rebecca Webster/Recorder staff Florence, left, and Bob Grimm, right, talk to attendees at Thursday's Spring Travelogue and Culture Talk about their travels in Arizona.


Library kicks off travel, culture series

Friday, March 22, 2013 - Updated: 4:30 PM


Recorder News Staff

A local travel series has made it's way back to the Amsterdam Free Library.

The Spring Travelogue and Culture Talks began Thursday evening, kicking off the 2013 series.

The series showcases members of the greater Amsterdam community as they share the tales of their travels, adding in information to those who attend about the culture of the places they've visited.

John Naple, a library trustee, said he began the series after finding that so many people in Amsterdam had traveled to distant places.

"I thought that there were people who had interesting stories to tell and people would enjoy hearing about them," Naple said. "Not everybody gets the chance to travel. Maybe it's financial or maybe it's health or for all kinds of reasons, some people don't like to go on a plane, and some people love to do all that, so they can share."

In this year's series, attendees will hear tales about Greece and Puerto Rico, Istanbul and Sweden.

And they will hear them from travelers, who, Naple found, are local residents with stories to tell. He simply approached them and asked them to talk.

"You can travel by just going a few blocks to the library," he said.

Thursday, a small group of residents heard from Florence and Bob Grimm, who have spent a handful of trips in Arizona.

At Thursday's talk, they showed attendees photographs of their latest trip and shared with them some of the history of the state.

"We were there for a week and also started a few days ahead of time in Phoenix," Florence Grimm said. "We are all packed and ready to do it again."

She said they'd been to the state five times and encourages others to go.

During their talk, Florence Grimm spoke to the attendees about the botanical gardens, museums, and even a ranch -- but one specific experience stuck out for her.

"We experienced the assimilation at a school where they had taken the Indians off the reservation when they were very young," she said. "They were forced to go to the schools. No speaking of your language and their hair got cut and so many things that were their tradition were just taken away from them."

"That was quite an experience," she said later.

Bob Grimm taught the group a cultural lesson, too, about how the Navajo language was used in code during war periods.

Attendees' eyes widened as they listened to how the codes were created.

Nicole Hemsley, the library director who said she loves to travel, said this year's series includes the largest amount of presentations they've had to date for the series.

"This is pretty popular. You have a base core who follows it, but we're hoping to pick up participation," Hemsley said.

And it falls in line with the library's mission of embracing cultures in Amsterdam.

"It just shows that everybody's on the same page," she said. "John's been doing this for years and it's almost like we're conditioning the rest of our programming around this older series, which has been popular."

Hemsley said it gives residents a chance to explore the world from the safety of their own neighborhood.

Shirley Roehl, one of the attendees, said she started coming to the talks last year and couldn't believe how many people would come.

One of her favorite talks from last year was a talk about Chile.

"John (Naple) puts on these terrific tours all over the world," she said, referring to the talks. "I wouldn't miss one of them. They're very, very fun and interesting."

Roehl said she's never been to Arizona, so the talk about the state and its culture was new to her.

She said she's looking forward to the future talks about Russia and China.

"I'd go anywhere," she said.

Hemsley said it's a way to bring the world home.

"People enjoy hearing about far-away places. We live now in a global society. Within hours you can be in another country. Within minutes you can be in another country with technology. It opens the whole world up and makes it smaller, actually," she said. "It's a lot of fun."


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