I’m not alone in that passion. I know 150 people who share a passion for travel—some for the reasons I mentioned, others for reasons all their own. The number is not random. One-hundred-fifty is the number of students in our Global Consulting Program who were supposed to spend several weeks abroad this summer. They were gearing up for once-in-a-lifetime trips to either Greece, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, or Hungary where they would work with local students at our partner universities to engage in consulting projects with companies in that country. They also could travel after the program, gaining incredible professional experience and making lifelong friends and memories.
As director of this program, I have the pleasure of preparing students for this experience. Besides learning about global business and the consulting process, we talk about the excitement of overnight flights and wheels touching down in a new country. We learn enough about the region to be able to ‘get by’ in a new language and culture. We discuss do’s and don’ts, variations across cultures, and how they have the opportunity and responsibility to be ambassadors of not just Ohio University, but of the United States to everyone they meet. In short, this prep course underscores the value—both personally and professionally—of international travel.
Obviously, these programs were cancelled due to the Coronavirus. Students were justifiably devastated by this news. As a class, we navigated the daily updates, created contingency plans, and developed alternative game plans to the best of our collective ability. The thing that has surprised—and inspired—me has been their response to this situation. My fear was that the COVID-19 crisis would possibly deter this group of students from international travel in general. Consider that the same map that we had looked at all semester with curiosity and excitement now had blood-red dots growing and multiplying. The famous sites that we were looking forward to exploring were now abandoned and empty. The popular greetings we had talked about (e.g., double-cheek kiss, handshakes, etc.) now were literally forbidden in those very countries. We had spent 2 months building up the value and importance of connecting with the global community only to have that connection be marked as the way a deadly virus spreads across the world.
I needn’t have worried because quite the opposite has occurred. Through adversity, they have become more motivated than ever. When asked about future travel plans, these students have responded with positivity. In fact, not only did this crisis not dampen their spirits, it seems to have sparked a stronger desire to explore, to travel, to even work and live internationally. Based on my conversations, they view this as merely an obstacle, an added challenge to fulfilling their hunger to see the world—not a permanent barrier. They acknowledge that this has changed their perspective and will shape their views of traveling, but also that true adventure involves ambiguity, which is part of the draw of international travel in the first place. They view this as not a reason to sulk but as an opportunity for growth. Indeed, I often speak about how these trips push us out of our comfort zones, but that is part of becoming your best ‘you’, and these students are doing that in spades.
To those students reading this blog, please understand that you are an inspiration. Obviously to me. But also to those around you. Because if I picked up on your character and integrity through this whole dilemma, others did as well. If it was apparent to me that you are meeting this with confidence and optimism, then it is apparent to your parents, your classmates, your friends. Trust me that in this very moment, some of those people need that positive energy, so take a moment to feel good about yourself for being its source. Finally, please know that you WILL experience all of those things you were hoping to experience. It may be next summer on this same trip, it might be an internship for a company headquartered in Brazil, or it might be in two years when you and your best friend backpack across Europe. But if you want it, you will get it. Trust me.
4/3/2020 07:23:07 am
It's great to see students taking this in stride during this season. I've had some very positive interactions with students this week, and it is inspiring to see them pushing through the challenges. I hope that we will all remember this experience and allow it to continue to shape our perspective and improve *all* lives on the other side. Stay well, Colin.
4/3/2020 12:24:55 pm
It's hard enough to travel internationally and learn what you believe you should to be successful in your trip abroad. Adding the layer of the pandemic can make it impossible to do the things you'd been learning and preparing for for months on end.
4/5/2020 02:24:16 pm
Although our study abroad may have been postponed I look at this a even more planning that can be done. I said it in my team chat going to Athens, Greece. This is just an opportunity for us to get the absolute most out of the experience. Now sure we would all love to be departing in about 1 month but I can honestly say that we will make the most out of it in 1 year and 1 months time we will all be franticly trying to order gyros in greek. I wish the best for you Professor Gabler, and keep yourself and your family INSIDE!!!
4/14/2020 07:31:36 am
Hey Brandon, I completely agree with your comment on the amount of planning we can now do for next year. At least for me, I really had no idea whether or not I was going to travel afterwards to the islands so now I can take the time to research which ones I would like to see. Although everyone was looking forward to this amazing opportunity I think we have to look at the bright side; it did not get cancelled, merely postponed. I am looking forward to things getting back to normal, and to our trip in a little over a year! Stay safe, and stay healthy!
4/6/2020 09:49:02 am
I, just like all of my other peers, was greatly looking forward to my trip to Germany this summer. While I was over there, I was supposed to spend about a month and a half traveling and enjoying about ten different beautiful European countries. This pandemic has not discouraged me from wanting to travel internationally, but I now am just itching to see if I will able to embark on my journey next year, upon my graduation, or perhaps years down the line. COVID-19 is rather inconveniently timed for all 150 of us GCP students, but I know that most of the students planning to go to Germany are still inspired and want to figure out a new plan of action, just like me. Understandably, this is a hard time for us all, but I am eager to keep life moving, travel, learn, and gain new experiences, whether that be back in Athens for my senior year or aboard.
Kurt Russell Jr
5/1/2020 08:12:08 pm
Hi Lizzie, I completely agree with you! I was supposed to head to Greece this summer and spend about a month in total with the extra travel just to get back in time to go to Milwaukee for my internship. Life seemed so perfect before we left for Spring Break and it was devastating to come back and be told that I wasn't going to be able to experience such a great trip. Similarly to you, I am not discouraged to travel or work internationally in the future and I honestly cannot wait for my next opportunity to go explore and enjoy the world.
4/6/2020 12:53:21 pm
While I am so upset and disappointed that I am unable to travel to Greece this summer I think the most important thing during a time like this is to try and stay positive. This obstacle definitely won't discourage me from traveling in the future and I am motivated to still participate in GCP whether that be next summer or this winter. I think this is time is opportunity for reflection and to think about what is most important to you. Speaking for myself, I took a lot for granted before this pandemic and I am now challenging myself to be more grateful for everything each day no matter how simple it may seem.
4/7/2020 01:07:32 pm
Hi Ashley! I love your post and I agree that this is a time to be positive and more importantly thankful. I have also taken this time to truly see how blessed I am and to have such great people in my life. I hope everything works out for you!
4/6/2020 03:52:31 pm
I knew coming into college that I wanted to do a program abroad. GCP combined that with the opportunity to fulfill course requirements while also doing an international internship. I couldn't pass up that opportunity. The consequences of COVID-19 have not changed my view on the importance of these international experiences. I still have hopes to travel in the future, whether that be through GCP or another program because of the value and growth that they can provide. Although I will no longer be going to Hungary this summer, I am using this time at home to get organized, focus on the opportunities here, and being grateful. I also wanted to take the time to thank all of the professors that are making the best of the current situation, changing lesson plans, and helping their students be successful.
4/6/2020 03:56:44 pm
While trying to adjust to life at home, I have also tried to reflect on the things in life that I might not have thought about. I've been trying to keep an open mind and focus on the things I can control as I feel that this is the best way to manage anxiety around the unknown. I couldn't imagine the thought of going abroad only to have it canceled unexpectedly and without having control of that situation. My best friend from home went to study abroad in London for the semester. They told her that she had to leave in the country in 24 hours otherwise she wouldn't be allowed back into the USA. Even though being at home isn't my first choice, I can only imagine what all the seniors and those planning/were on study abroad programs only to have their time cut short. All of my professors have been very helpful and supportive during this time and it makes me love and appreciate Ohio University even more. Thank you for taking the time to write this post, Professor G. This really helped me look at things in a different light. Like you mentioned, everyone is trying to look for a positive even if it comes for five minutes out of your day.
4/7/2020 09:57:50 am
I have wanted to go to Greece for as long as I can remember. When I was little, maybe 4 or 5 years old, I was obsessed with the idea of getting married. When my mother would ask me where I was going to honeymoon with my spouse, I told her Greece. I have always had a love for the country and culture, so when I found out I would be able to attend the Athens-to-Athens Global Consulting Program at Ohio University, I was ecstatic. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, the GCP trips have been cancelled. Although I was very disappointed to hear such news, my stance on international travel has remained the same, if not grown. I now more than ever want to travel and go see the world while I am able. Even though this is certainly not the way I wanted this semester to go, I'm so happy the OU is pre-accepting us into the program for next year. Thank you so much Professor G for always being there for your students and sharing your positive outlook. I wish you and your family stay safe and healthy!
4/7/2020 12:01:16 pm
Once I recieved the news that I was part of the global consulting program for France, I was ecstatic. I worked very hard to keep my grades up and involve myself in a plethora of organizations to be able to show responsibilty and dedication. After taking our culture classes on tuesdays and thursdys, it made me even more excited to tour France and work with fench students on a consulting project. After hearing the news of Corana affecting everyone's trips abroad, I was devastated. But, it's not just a disappointment for myself, but everyone else in the world who cannot even go out of the house. This semester definitely surprised me, not even being able to go back to campus, but the support and hard work of my professors has really made me look at the bright side of things. Even though we are unable to travel this summer, I am still very thankful for the people I have met through these classes and the teacher's who have helped along the way.
4/7/2020 12:30:10 pm
From a student perspective, as others have reiterated in these comments, I do not see this as a permanent obstacle. The GCP preparation course has still provided us with a wealth of useful information for not only international travel, but also for business consulting. We will not get to experience these trips as a class. However, we will make use of these tips, tricks, and new ideas when we discover international travel on our own time. The end goal is still in sight– to experience another culture and learn more about how the rest of the world operates. For many of us, this goal will be met whether it is with another program, a study abroad experience, or solely individual travel. I am inspired by my peers and by Dr. Gabler who have made it clear just how important it is to break out of your comfort zone and experience another part of the world. Thank you, Dr. Gabler, for continuing to uplift and care for your students as we share in our disappointment and frustration. It should be known that although this is not the ideal outcome, our desire to travel has only been strengthened.
4/7/2020 01:05:36 pm
I just want to start of with saying thank you. When we left for Spring Break I was still very hopeful for my trip in particular, but unfortunately everything got cancelled. I kept thinking about how awesome of an instructor Colin Gabler was and how it must be so hard for him right now to be in his position. Thank you so much for thinking about us and I loved this post. The Corona Virus has really impacted everyone in some way or another, but I am glad to hear that my fellow students are not letting it get in the way of our future. Looking forward to what this year has to bring!
4/9/2020 10:04:53 am
Throughout the past few weeks, it has been hard to come to the realization that not only are students unable to finish their spring semesters, but for those of us in GCP, we will be missing out on an experience of a lifetime. Before my trip to Germany, I had plans on going to the Ireland before and also traveling to visit one of my good friends in Spain following the Germany GCP. I'm sure that many of my fellow students can agree with me in saying that I simply feel robbed. However, I think it is important to look at the grand scheme of the situation. The corona virus pandemic is a once in a lifetime scenario and it is completely out of our control. Even after the pandemic passes, my views on global travel will not change and I plan on going across seas for the first time in the near future. Traveling abroad has been something that I have always envisioned as being part of my college experience and that mindset has not changed. Although I am uncertain of how or when I will do it, I know that it will happen.
4/9/2020 10:23:08 pm
Please let me start by saying THANK YOU!!
4/12/2020 12:07:07 pm
As a student who was thrilled to go to Spain, let me start by saying this post means a lot Professor Gabler. I think we should look to you and everyone else involved in the GCP Program for constantly keeping us informed during these hard times. In the future, I hope to take part in a GCP Program again (possibly Brazil in the winter), and to get that international experience we all crave. Thanks again!
4/13/2020 10:44:11 am
4/13/2020 05:14:47 pm
I would like to start out by saying thank you for everything. I was nervous about being in a late night class and being too tired to participate, but I really, truly enjoyed the sustainability class. Each Tuesday I would look forward to going to class and learning things I had not known before. As a senior, I could honestly say this was my favorite class out of my whole four years at Ohio University. I am devastated that I did not get to continue on with classes and had to end my senior year a little short. I was not involved in any GCP classes or trips, but I did travel a lot this year. My boyfriend is in the military and I would frequently visit him on weekends. I would plan trips just merely days before I would leave because I had the freedom to do that. Travel was part of my life and it is a big shock and will be a big shock until the "travel ban" is over. Although this pandemic is something nobody planned for, it makes me believe it is only going to help society. I feel that people are going to start cherishing their lives a little more than they did before.
4/14/2020 09:24:03 am
I've never taken any GCP class, but I have studied abroad and feel for these students who have had a once-in-a-lifetime trip stripped from them due to this cornoavirius situation. I had this whole 4-year plan of how I would spend my summers before I started college: work and build up funds between freshman and sophomore year, go on a study abroad trip to Ireland the next summer, and then finally get an internship this summer. That plan is now a bit derailed. All of the internships I've applied for have either been cancelled, or communication with them has just stopped. I had plans to visit my aunt and uncle in South Carolina for a week in May, but now that can't happen, especially since by aunt is immunocompromised. COVID-19 will definitely change the way we travel for a long time, but I'm looking forward to getting out and exploring the world again as soon as I can.
4/14/2020 09:24:12 am
I was very heartbroken for the GCP students when I realized they could not go to their destinations! I did GCP my sophomore year, and my trip to France was amazing and a huge motivation for me to finish the spring semester strong in the months leading up to my departure. I am glad to see the students in the comments who were supposed to go on a trip this year remaining positive- I hope everyone still gets to visit their destinations in the future! As a senior, I am heartbroken about commencement and all the events I had planned to hang out with some of my friends before we part ways, but this just means I will have to see them in a different context. Overall I am just feeling grateful that I had the opportunity to receive an education and I am trying to enjoy my last few weeks as a student, even if it is online. I took a ton of stuff for granted before all this, so I'm now taking time to be grateful for my life and the things I experienced at my time at OU.
4/14/2020 01:17:01 pm
I was supposed to travel to Dijon, France with the GCP program this spring. When I found out this opportunity wasn't going to be happening I was distraught and honestly didn't know what to think. So much work and time was put into this trip that I was so beyond excited for. Getting to know the people I would be traveling with was probably my favorite part. Since finding out the bad news, I have come to terms with it and have worked so hard to stay positive about it. The professors and Colin especially, have made staying positive much easier for me. I am looking forward to getting to travel next summer and I will be grateful to go to any of the sites. Though all of this has been hard to handle and bare with, it has made me more patient and grateful for the little things. I can't wait to enjoy all of the little things in another country when I am able too, in the mean time I'm staying positive and staying home!
4/14/2020 05:37:13 pm
Having an uncle that grew up in Thessaloniki, Greece for most of his life, I would always hear about how beautiful and great Greece is. I can't even count how many times my aunt and uncle would tell me that I needed to come with them on their yearly trip. I heard about the Global Consulting Program through The Ralph and Luci Schey Sales Centre and immediately became interested when I saw that it was in Athens, Greece. Words cannot describe how excited I was when I got the email that I had been accepted. Although the sudden crisis of COVID-19 has postponed our trip, I am still just as excited. Thank you Professor G for always making class fun and enjoyable along with adapting to virtual communication!
4/15/2020 07:38:09 am
I knew coming into college I wanted to have an out of the country experience. As soon as I heard about GCP I knew that that was the program for me. Although I am heartbroken that I will not be traveling to the bucket list destination of Greece, I know that being home right now is the safest thing for everyone to do. Getting so close to being able to go on this trip makes me passionate in making sure I get there one day. As of right now I want to plan a trip there next summer with all the knowledgeI learned in my Greek culture class.
4/15/2020 11:25:06 am
Professor Gabler, this blog post perfectly describes the disappointment but also hope that I face as someone who loves to travel. The peace and serenity but also the stress of traveling is something I value greatly. Although the news of the cancellation of the summer portion of GCP was heartbreaking, I look forward to reapplying for next summer as I'm sure my fellow peers do too! I will not let this pandemic sway my love for traveling and experiencing new cultures. Thank you for being such an inspiring and uplifting role model in these hard times, stay safe and healthy!
4/15/2020 12:02:01 pm
I’m also passionate about travel. I can enjoy the natural and cultural landscape of the United States in the busy study and life. This is one of my reasons which I choose study abroad in U.S. When I first arrived in the United States, I met a lot of troubles like language, communication, homesick. My English doesn’t very well, it directly affects me everything. I even lose my goals to study abord, there are only pressure arounds me. I had too many obstacles to overcome at that period; however, as time goes on, the difficulties I thought at the beginning are no longer difficulties. I grew up unconsciously and became more independent. These difficulties have strengthened my need to persevere and endure in extraordinary times. Every squat is to jump higher. For me now, I can better understand that “Through adversity, they have become more motivated than ever.”
4/15/2020 03:49:19 pm
When I visited OU as a highschooler, one of the advisers talked about GCP. Before that, I had never thought about studying abroad, but GCP made me want to go abroad. No one expected COVID-19 to cancel our trip, but I still want to participate in GCP once the world returns to a normal state. The opportunity to work with students from a different country with a live client is too great of an opportunity to pass on. Though I am disappointed that the trip won't happen this summer, I am still excited about it happening in the future.
4/16/2020 07:36:43 am
That is a great way to look at the situation! Rather than let the new discourage or negatively impact the way we few travel we can grow as a society and come out of this with an appreciation for what we have as well as being more concerned and aware of being sanitary. I unforchantly will be graduating next year and want to move right into my full time position so I will be unable to attend the trip next year, but that in no way has changed my curiosity for exploring different cultures. I am a little sad I will not get to share this experience while in college, but once I am financially stable I hope to enjoy all the thrill of travel and learning more about other cultures.
4/16/2020 10:09:11 am
As a Senior, who now has plenty of time to reflect, I think that not traveling abroad during college is definitely one of my biggest regrets. However, I am now motivated more than ever to travel and see the world and gain perspective.
4/16/2020 08:14:52 pm
Getting to be apart of the Global Consulting Program throughout my first year at Ohio University has allowed me to grow both as a professional and as a student. Although I am not able to travel to Germany this summer, the lessons I have learned through our discussions about international business and language/culture classes will stick with throughout my next three years here in Athens and beyond.
4/17/2020 01:32:27 pm
This post accurately describes my outlook on the situation. Although i was greatly looking forward to going to Spain with the GCP class, i know i will go there soon. My brother Will was planning to go back packing through all of Europe this summer after his college graduation. His trip had to be postponed. Although we both were very upset over the cancellations, we took this opportunity to come up with a few new ideas. Since I have already purchased the ticket to Spain, I have enough airfare to go there whenever i want. Will and i are planning on potentially taking a siblings trip with our other brother as well and the 3 of us will spend a week in Spain before Will continues on through Europe. Although it is not the trip i had planned on, i am still very excited by the thought of traveling. Similarly to your other post, i think its all about finding the goods in the bad. I may not have an internship in Spain but I have the potential to form all kinds of other memories with there with Family or friends. Traveling is something i have always been passionate about and always will be.
Sydney Van Scoy
4/18/2020 02:00:51 pm
This post is very accurate with my outlook on this situation. It has caused me to adapt when things do not go right, but it also made me realize how important it is to go out and explore other places you may have never been before. I have been reflecting on my time at home and the one chance I got to leave the country a couple years ago. And looking back on it, I was so inspired and content. This has really helped me look into my future, and as much as I love Ohio and Cleveland, I might want to live somewhere out of the state or the country. This blog post really helped me realize even more about my travels, and made me even more excited for my trip next year and exploring new places and other cultures
Gregory Sheets II
4/18/2020 07:43:37 pm
Hearing about the GCP and the many benefits and opportunities the program offers through Dr. Vassiliadis' classes, the program really stood out as a unique way to gain internship experience abroad, learn about a culturally rich area, professionally and personally develop, and network in places outside the US. I was ecstatic when Dr. V told me I had been excepted for the Greece GCP and equally devastated when the state of the world took this unfortunate turn for the worst. Throughout the past few weeks I have really tried to keep a positive outlook on the situation and two phrases kept coming to mind. The first was "Finis Coronat Opus" which means "The End Crowns the Work" in Latin. This phrase stands out because it perfectly illustrates that no matter what obstacle we are faced with, the end result - that crowning moment - will always be worthwhile. The second phrase was "This too shall pass." This phrase, for obvious reasons, applies to our current situation by reminding us of the temporary nature of these circumstances. Once we realize that the proverbial sky is not falling, we are able to focus on channeling our energy into positive outlets and working to keep out passions alive and thriving. Stay safe and stay passionate everyone!
4/19/2020 06:23:20 pm
I agree with you.As an international student, I think it is very good for me to leave my hometown and study in another country.In these years of studying abroad, I deeply understand the cultural difference.The outbreak led to frequent cancellations of recent flights, so I couldn't get home temporarily and had to stay in the United States.It is true that studying abroad will bring us different challenges, but these challenges can make me constantly improve myself.
4/19/2020 06:40:38 pm
I too, enjoy the simple things, especially when it comes to travel. I get excited to find the perfect Airbnb after spending hours online looking for a place to stay. I like planning where I’m going to go and what I want to see and equally enjoy being spontaneous once I get there. I enjoy exploring the city and building a certain routine in the days that I’m there. The virus has changed the daily lives of thousands of people as universities and companies have changed to remote learning and work. It has put a pause on travel for many people. However, for those like myself, it hasn’t changed the passion to travel. The GCP course taught me about differences among cultures and prepared me for consulting abroad. This summer I was supposed to spend several weeks in Barcelona, Spain. As excited as I was for the trip, I know that saying home is what is safest for everyone during this time. I’m am grateful for what I have learned in this class and hope to be able to travel to Spain next summer.
4/21/2020 03:32:21 pm
I want to start by saying thank you for sharing your positivity and hopefulness with all of us. Like many other students, I was beyond excited to finally experience my first major trip abroad. It wasn't GCP, but this summer I was planning on doing a marketing, advertising & PR internship in Florence, Italy through CIS Abroad. The day I received my acceptance to the program, I immediately became anxious of the quirks that come with travelling to an unfamiliar country. Despite the circumstances, I've still been trying to immerse myself in the culture as best I can. I watch Italian Youtubers, listen to Italian music, and continue to learn the language using Duolingo. Since the disruption with the pandemic, my motivation and enthusiasm has slightly declined knowing that I probably will not be able to go abroad for an uncertain amount of time. Thankfully, I found the Ohio International Consulting Program and hope to find even more opportunities that will lead to lots more travelling in the future. Whether my plans eventually return to as expected or not, I am thankful to be in a family that acknowledges the importance of social distancing and grateful to be healthy and safe.
4/22/2020 05:37:13 pm
Like many have said before me, let me start by saying thank you.
Blake M Rudy
4/23/2020 09:19:16 am
4/23/2020 10:06:27 pm
4/27/2020 09:16:59 am
This is a very good take on this situation. I have many friends with travel plans affected by this. The last paragraph is especially important. I sort of feel like I missed out by never being able to take advantage of a study abroad or GCP program, but I know I will still be able to make it to all the places I want to eventually. Thanks for the encouragement Professor G!
4/30/2020 01:38:36 pm
5/1/2020 03:27:42 pm
I think this is a great view to have regarding Covid-19. One major takeaway I've made during quarantine is that I need to try new things more often. I've taken up a couple new habits during quarantine and they have been really enjoyable. One new thing I can't do right now, but am looking forward to, is traveling more. Last summer I was fortunate enough to go on the GCP Italy trip. I wasn't a big traveler before this trip, but after going on it that switched. Now as I sit in quarantine I can't wait to get back out there and explore new places!
5/1/2020 04:55:43 pm
The human mindset is a powerful thing. If you are having a good day and in a good mindset, nothing can knock you down. On the flip side, if you're having an off day, nothing seems to be able to pick you up. The beautiful thing is that a mindset is a choice. This is evident in the students of the GCP program. Each and every student could've tuned out for the rest of the semester and wallow in self-pity over having this amazing opportunity stripped away from them. However, that's not the character of the bobcats of Ohio University. It is inspiring to read about how these students not only are making the most out of a bad situation, but they're inspiring others as they go. Reading an article like this makes me incredibly proud to call myself a bobcat.
5/1/2020 06:26:47 pm
Similarly to how you've been inspired by the students signed up for GCP, I too have been inspired by my fellow classmates. When I initially found out the news that we would be transitioning into a virtual learning environment, I was fearful of how things would play out regarding my group's consulting project. Group work is notorious for sparking uneasiness but doing group work virtually is especially daunting. My fellow team and I could have easily allowed the somber news of our trip being cancelled to directly effect the outcome of our project. However, my teammates met this challenge with diligence and optimism. Additionally, I've been able to speak with each of my teammates about their future plans to travel internationally whether it be through the GCP program or their own travel goals. I was excited to hear that like myself, students are eager to see their plans through. Although we understand that the impact of this pandemic on international travel will be extensive and long lasting, I find solace in the positivity and eagerness this pandemic has ignited in students.
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Colin Gabler is a writer at heart.