Passport to the World
What do you get when an education and teaching background in art, art history and speech is combined with decades of family adventures on luxury cruise liners and one serendipitous event? Well, a career as a destination lecturer to amazing places all over the world, of course. In other words, a dream life!
Meet Verla Brown: artist, historian, lecturer, photographer, writer, and traveler extraordinaire. While on a cruise thirty something years ago, Verla's husband, Bill, overheard the captain's concern over the scheduled lecturer not being allowed on board in China. Bill immediately volunteered Verla to fill in. Her spontaneous lecture so inspired her audience of passengers, she provided several more talks during that sailing. She has been cruising and lecturing ever since. Her cruising log is pretty impressive: 500 plus cruises, including 17 sailings around the world.
On the day I interviewed Verla at her home, she was busily packing her bags and enhancing her presentations for yet another adventure in Southeast Asia. This assignment will take her to Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Vietnam.
While she specializes in art of the Orient, her destination lectures also include the Mediterranean, Baltic, Europe, Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Verla is a virtual encyclopedia of information, including the best places to shop around the world-a topic in which she loves to engage. Her Power Point topics are fascinating and tailored to the itinerary of each cruise. They include stunning photographic examples of the culture, architecture, art, history and religion of each port city. She treated me to a sample presentation. I could have stayed all afternoon!
Besides her ongoing cruise ship assignments, Verla has lectured on the subject of Southeast Asia for Fortune 500 corporations and several universities, including South Carolina's own USCB. She once shared the speaking platform with Sir Edward Heath and William Buckley on this topic: Influence of Chinese history on Hong Kong-One Country, Two Governments.
Verla is renowned for her "People of the World", a 100 plus watercolor collection of characters in native dress performing daily tasks of their culture (see photo). She describes her inspiration and process: "I meet interesting people in the places I visit. When someone catches my eye, I record the image visually, go back to my room, and quickly paint what I saw." This collection has been exhibited in many galleries, and is soon to be showcased in her hometown of Davenport, Iowa. She has created a DVD of this spectacular collection accompanied by a music sound track.
A teacher of Sumi-E, oriental brush painting, Verla studied with a master in New York City for five years. I visited her class in action and was inspired by this exquisite style that lends itself to coaxing out the artist in everyone.
This multi-talented lady is also a writer. Passport to the World is the title of Verla's new (soon to be published) book, which combines personal travel experiences and historical information, with a touch of humor and intrigue.
From the open seas to the world of computer technology, Verla Brown is right at home.
About four years ago, Verla's beloved husband passed away. Despite her grief, she pulled herself together and bravely continued her work. Now she is frequently accompanied by one of her three devoted sons and family members on her journeys. She is truly a powerful example of living the dream and not letting life's tragedies stop you.
Her motto is "Don't fear. Just trust."
Inspired By: Michaelangelo's perseverance and dedication to his passion.
What People May Not Know about Verla: She tailors her own clothes from fabrics she purchases in the Orient.
Next Adventure: Kayaking on the Halong Bay in Vietnam
Calls Hilton Head Island: Home