What Have You Learned About the World Through Your Travel?
Our Program Consultants Augusta, Brian, Carlie, Liam and Stephanie have shared what they have learned about their home country and themselves. In this last segment, they will share with you what they have learned about the world.
Augusta: So much! What comes to mind immediately is as follows: People are inherently kind. There isn’t just one way to do anything or a “best way” to approach life or the world. A smile goes a long way, as does any attempt to communicate in the local language, however poor. People are eager to show off their way of life and learn about yours. Stereotypes are rarely correct. A huge majority of the world is open-minded and welcoming. Being open-minded yourself is the best way to get the most from life. Judgements are pointless and only detract from what could be. (This might not be about the world – but I learned this from the world!) Also, that the world is a huge, and wonderful place.
Carlie: When traveling around Indonesia, I went to the city Ubud. We drove into the center of town and ended up right in the middle of an elaborate ceremony going on in order to cleanse and balance the energy of the island. It’s a 10 day festival and this particular day was the slaughtering of an animal, an offering to the gods to prevent tsunamis.
There are so many different lifestyles, values, traditions, manners, discriminations, and sacrifices people have that are sometimes so different than what we deal with in the United States. Living in a different country and learning a different culture gives you the unique opportunity to see life from the outside in. You see life through someone else’s eyes, and you learn about the many idiosyncrasies of the world.
Brian: I learned that the world is equally massive and minute all at the same time. I learned that people everywhere want very simple things, and I learned that no matter where you go, listening, understand, and laughing will get you a long way. I learned that the dinner table is where everyone comes together. I learned that the worst thing a person can do is fear people who are different from them. I learned that having a beer with someone and asking them about their day is translatable through every language.
I learned that when people get away from embracing each other, and from embracing the subtle, yet obvious beauties in the world, they lose sight of what really matters. Perhaps I could have learned all of this had I stayed in my tiny Midwest Suburban town, but through meeting and traveling with people of so many different backgrounds, I learned more about this absurd little planet floating in the massive universe than I could have ever imagined. Also, so it goes, so it always goes.
Liam: As I lived abroad I learned I, as one little not just Englishman; human, am but a speck on something so much bigger. That sounds philosophical and it isn't supposed to be. It's just reality. My reality, my perspective - that's what changed. I was exposed to a much larger world - so many different races; cultures; norms and values etc.
I learned that not everybody in the world is white and lower/middle-class. That was me and my life. The world carries on independent of that and holds such incredible depth, breadth and variety. It's exciting and potentially boundless - but it's also cruel and there are flaws that I had never previously been exposed to. The crazy bit for me - I haven't even scratched the surface! A global-perspective - I suppose that's what I learned.
Stephanie: Before I started traveling, people around the world were just an idea. I knew they existed, but I had no idea what they were like. Other countries, histories and cultures were merely words and pictures in textbooks that seemed like another universe from the small suburban, New Hampshire town I grew up in. My first year of high school I took a chance and did a student exchange program in Germany. Extremely nervous and anxious doesn’t even begin to cover my overwhelming amount of emotions.
Ultimately I arrived, settled into my home-stay and started making friends. To my surprise, everyone was just like me. A teenager in Germany has the same angsty, silly drama and problems as me or anyone else my age. So within this experience I learned that the world is not a scary place because it is unknown, it is just a new adventure where you are able to impact other people’s lives and they are able to impact yours in the greatest ways possible. People from all over the world have their different rituals, cultures, religions and opinions – but at the end of the day we all are brought together by the all-encompassing factor of humanity.