Bank executive Irvin Ashford Jr. shares details of traveling with son

Photo Courtesy: Irvin Ashford
Photo courtesy of Irvin Ashford Jr.

When Comerica Bank executive Irvin Ashford Jr. isn’t spending his time teaching financial literacy classes to at the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy in Dallas or throughout the state, receiving an honor from a plethora of organizations, too many to name here, he’s simply being a dad.

A Woodrow Wilson International Studies and Public Policy Fellow, a British-American Project Fellow and American Marshall Fellow, Ashford is a graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio with dual master’s degrees — one in public affairs from the University of Texas at Austin and one in business administration from the University of Dallas.

Tailored suit, spit-shine sparkling shoes and a designer watch to boot, Ashford is really a cool guy to have in your list of contacts.

Read here how the senior vice president of the Texas market and community development and external affairs director spends time with his son.

What was the purpose of the trip?

It was to show my son one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen in my life and to show him a manifestation of God.

What makes travel important to the evolution of developing a world perspective?

Travel opens your mind to the “possibility of other,” as in other places, other foods, other ways of thinking, other world views, and other friends.

What insight does a family trip with a son offer a father?

What I learned is I am even more fascinated with my son then I had previously thought. Seeing the world through his eyes reminds me of all of the things I missed as a kid.

How is traveling with a son different from any other trip?

Traveling with my son gives me an opportunity to share experiences with him that I was unable to share with my own father. To be honest, I don’t even have a single picture of my father and me, together, from when I was a little boy. I knew my father and spent some limited time with him, but it was never quality time. His life was cut short and he was made to disappear when I was 14 (he was murdered or died from a drug overdose somewhere). The last time I saw him was in the summer of 1983. So, I don’t have any memories of a father-son trip with him. In fact, my dad in a very real sense was my Uncle Ronald. He was and still is my hero. Every good memory I have as a kid begins and ends with him. The point is, traveling with my son gives us both the opportunity to create and make deposits into each other’s memory bank.

Share one memory from your trip that you will cherish forever.

We were at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon looking at a glorious view when I looked down at him looking up at me and he said, “This is awesome.” At that moment, I knew I made a deposit.

What three destinations would you recommend to someone wanting to see the world up close with cultural insights?

The three sites I would recommend are:
1. The Grand Canyon (South Rim four hours from Phoenix)
2. Victoria Falls (Zambian and Zimbabwean views) Go see the Great Zimbabwean ruins.
3. Cancun, Mexico. (Take the two-hour bus ride to Chichen Itza)

Explain why travel is important for family.

Families need to travel to discover the world as it actually is, which is important. Books, movies, tweets and texts cannot adequately describe the smells of Marrakech or the beauty of the Giza Pyramids. You certainly cannot tweet what chicken curry from India or beer from Germany really tastes like. In this case, you actually have to taste it for yourself and as a family.

How does traveling and vacation create balance in your life?

As we all know, work-life balance can be a difficult road to navigate. Traveling and vacations allow me to recharge and disengage from the hectic day-to-day activities I undertake at work and then balance with my parental obligations. Normally, during the work week I am doing things for other people. When I travel on vacation I am doing things for me and my family.

Name three things you take on all trips.

A hard-cover book
iPad (for movies/ music and email)

What is on you travel music playlist?

• WuTang Clan
• Notorious BIG
• Eric B & Rakim
• Michael Jackson
• U2
• 2Pac
• Das EFX
• Juvenile

Name two books you recommend for a travel trip.

The Sprit of TAO translated and Edited Thomas Cleary
Writings My Wrongs By Shaka Senghor

Share words or affirmations that you discovered or developed as a result of traveling. 

“Don’t haggle too much over price/ When is the next time you are going to be in __________?”
“Look at God’s majesty.”

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