Fort Myers, Fla. resident and retired physician Pat Zelkowitz, 76, and her late husband, Dr. Leo Zelkowitz, were 50-year-old empty-nesters when they decided to quit their respective medical practices and join the Peace Corps. During their time with the Peace Corps, they worked for five years in Central and Southern Africa, spent short stints doing advanced work in several Soviet Bloc countries, and volunteered in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
They left the Peace Corps for good in 1998 and continued to travel until Leo died three years ago after a long illness. Pat took care of her husband during that difficult time with the aid of her youngest daughter, her son-in-law and her grandchildren, who moved nearby to help care for Leo and provide emotional support for Pat. She developed a special bond with her two granddaughters and vowed to show them the world when they were old enough to travel. Around that time, she also discovered Road Scholar and its 6,500 educational travel programs.
“I had attended a program at the Chicago Art Institute, as well as a New York opera program and both were fantastic,” Pat said. “I told my family about it, and when I learned about Intergenerational programs I asked if they would be open to me taking my oldest grandchild to Paris. Honestly, I don’t think they would have let me take her if it wasn’t with Road Scholar. My daughter and son-in-law knew that if anything happened to me, Road Scholar would take care of my granddaughter, and I know they found comfort in that.”
Last month, Pat got the chance to take her granddaughter to Paris. The eight-day Paris program Intergenerational in the City of Lights: A La Decouverte de Paris, is one of Road Scholar’s most popular. A total of 12 girls between the ages of 13 and 16 and their grandparents shared the experience of visiting the world-famous Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre and the Paris Ballet. And it wouldn’t be a Road Scholar program without a few exclusive activities, including a French language lesson, a baking class at a French boulangerie and a private Eiffel Tower excursion.
“I so enjoyed my time alone with my granddaughter,” Pat said. “We got the opportunity to bond in a way we simply couldn’t have with her parents around. Our program was so successful, in fact, that I’m now taking her younger sister on the Road Scholar Harry Potter program in Oxford, England. Who knows what the kids will talk me into next?”
This Sunday, September 9, is Grandparents Day, a day in which we reflect on the impact grandparents have had on our lives. In that spirit, we’ve created a video dedicated to grandparents and the special experiences they share with their grandchildren on Road Scholar programs:
Click Here to watch the video.
To learn more about the Road Scholar programs attended by Pat and her granddaughters:
Intergenerational in the City of Lights: A La Decouverte de Paris
Magical Oxford: From the Narnia Chronicles to Harry Potter (Recently featured in the Wall Street Journal)