The Duncan Banner
A trip to Taiwan may have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Elizabeth Flanders Pitts, but the impact it had on her will also trickle down to her daughter, Harper, 6.
Pitts, a single mother, recently returned from a Rotary-sponsored trip to Taiwan, in which she was also a representative for United Way of Stephens County.
Rotary International sponsors the Group Study Exchange teams and Pitts was selected to represent this district’s organization, along with four other Oklahomans. All of those who went have different careers, backgrounds and interests.
There was a former attorney and judge, a graphic design artist and also Pitts, whose work is of a philanthropic nature.
“Our local Rotary group works hard and they choose young professionals, age 25 to 40, and who have been with a company for at least two years.”
Pitts said that while she was learning of a culture abroad, her daughter was learning at home in Duncan how to adapt without her mother.
She also hoped that Harper, “Scout,” would realize that there’s more to life and the world, than Duncan.
“She has been asking to travel. I work hard to give her a broad world view and travel broadens horizons. I believe I am setting an example when I travel and embrace cultures. It was an excellent opportunity of a lifetime and one I couldn’t pass up,” Pitts said. While there, she kept a daily online blog journal.
She said while Harper wasn’t able to travel with her, she learned greatly that it’s important to adapt to different things.
“I want her to bloom wherever she is planted and that life goes on. She learned coping skills and I try to raise her to be self-sufficient. She learned as much as I did,” Pitts said.
The trip would not have been possible without a strong network of family and friends to watch over her daughter in her absence.
“I cannot overemphasize this, but the entire community was a support system. We were able to stay connected using Skype,” she said.
Most of the people that Pitts stayed with were either upper middle class or very wealthy, but there was one woman that she connected with who shares the same issues as Pitts.
“There was a single mom with three kids and in a situation similar to mine,” she said. Spending time with her was an enjoyable, relaxing segment of the trip.
Pitts also connected with a young high school girl who will soon be a foreign exchange student in Paris.
The girl was fascinated with the English language and so Pitts found an annotated version of Pride and Prejudice, which she said, the girl was extremely grateful to receive.
“We’re even friends on facebook now,” she said.
Connecting with people of different cultures, she said, will be something that will help broaden Harper’s world as she grows up.
“It was totally a different way of life and I had way too much fun,” she said.
Pitts also learned how to “let go” of her daily structured life to allow others to be in charge.
“I’ve had to be that way, being a single mom. I like to be in charge, so that was difficult,” she said.
Getting back into that routine though has been just as challenging, even two weeks later.
Still she said, the experiences she gathered during the trip were valuable, for both her and Harper.
— Toni Hopper is a reporter for The Duncan Banner. She can be reached at 580-255-5354, Ext. 132 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.