Today, I came across an article from the Huffington Post titled, All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Traveling. I loved reading every line because it is so true. Here’s what the author learned:
(1) It’s the people, stupid.
Essentially, all those great beaches, monuments and historic sites are wonderful; however, getting in with the locals and learning about their day to day life is what it’s all about. I’ll never forget my trip to Burkina Faso in July 2012. There are some things about that trip I would change (mostly who I went there for). But regardless of some of the crap I dealt with from my American “friend”, it was still the BEST trip I’ve ever been on. Living in the village, getting to know the people that lived there…it was amazing and I want to do it again. One day there, I fell off my bike (no thanks to my stupid “friend”) and scraped up my arm pretty badly. When people in the village found out, they were very concerned – sent me pineapple, Coca Cola, and even came to check on me. That sense of community and family, even to an outsider, was truly wonderful. (Side note: It was this trip that made me realize that I *could* be a Peace Corps Volunteer. I could do this. It’s not as scary as I imagined.)
(2) Money does not equal happiness.
Couldn’t agree more. To continue on the same vain as the trip I described above. The people of Burkina Faso are very poor. I believe Burkina is the third poorest country IN THE WORLD, yet they were happy. They had their family and their friends, and that is all you truly need. It’s time I, WE, all really start understanding that.
(3) The news in the media has it wrong.
So, this one I’m still a little skeptical about (not believing everything in the media) India is still pretty scary for a woman. Last time I was there on a work trip, I had an uncomfortable encounter. There was a driver that always wanted to know where me and my co-worker (also a woman) were and wanted to be the one picking us up. Maybe this is just me being paranoid, and maybe I shouldn’t listen to the news media, but as a woman, it is not a chance I would like to take. However, I must admit that I did not get this feeling from all the guys I met, worked, had lunch/dinner with during my time there. Not every guy there is horrible and wants to rape you, but…
(4) Always look deeper.
Burkina Faso is mostly a Muslim country. Upon my arrival, not a nary (my sis would be proud of me using this very southern-country term) a soul wanted to kill me. Nope, not nary a one. In fact, the Muslims I met were quite pleasant and friendly. They even said that in their village, they celebrate all holidays…the Christians celebrate the end of Ramadan with the Muslims and the Muslims celebrate Christmas with the Christians. And they all still celebrate the days special to their indigenous religion. You know what they told me? They said they were all Africans first and then they were Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or whatever religion they practiced. Come on America! Let’s get on board and stop hating one another just because of our different religious beliefs…we are all Americans after all.
(5) People are the same wherever you go
I truly believe this and this is something I wrote about in my essays for my Peace Corps application. At our cores, we are all the same. We want to be healthy and happy…and we want that for our families and friends. I’ve seen this in all the places I’ve been and even right here at home volunteering with Big Brothers, Big Sisters. And if you haven’t already, you need to like the Humans of New York page on Facebook. The guy who runs the page, and who is an author, is on a World Tour. So far, he’s been in Iran (I think), Uganda, Somalia, and currently is in the Ukraine. He takes pictures of people he meets on the street and asks them a few questions about what their happiest or saddest moment has been, their greatest accomplishment, etc. and posts these stories to Facebook. As you read them, you find yourself saying “me too”. The article rounds out with the following, which, I think, is very perfect:
“When it comes right down to it, all of us, from Singapore schoolgirls to Namibian pygmies, want the exact same thing: happiness, well-being for our families and the right to pursue our dreams.”
So, my friends – GET OUT THERE! Meet the World. No reservations required (except maybe a plane ticket and a hotel)…the World is waiting for you!