It's been a while . . .
It's been a while since I've written mostly because in addition to my planning and booking travel, I've started up another job to supplement my income. The travel industry, in and of itself, is not one where people find riches so some of us have to do what we have to do to get by. Travel professionals do what we do because we love it and not because we're making the big bucks, although the big bucks WOULD be nice!
You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink.
The fact that I focus mostly on travel as a way of transforming ones self and stepping out of ones comfort zone relies on people's ability and interest in doing all of those things. More often than not, you cannot tell someone that a transformation or a shift in their being needs to happen ~ it's something that they decide upon or realize in their own time. It's also difficult to help people understand that travel really can be a catalyst for personal growth and insight. They just can't comprehend how things will or can change just by going on vacation. Sometimes our lives are fantastic but we lack the inspiration or we feel we need "more" out of our lives and this is where travel becomes a great spring board into the world of inspiration.
Traveling really does bridge cultural barriers.
I'm two weeks into my new job at an elementary school that is 60% "minority" and 80% poverty and I'll have to say that my experience in travel has enhanced my ability to relate to the students. Not only that, it has given me such insight into what our immigrants' home countries are like that I can enlighten and educate teachers as to some of the cultural nuances or misunderstandings they have regarding their students. Many teachers do not have the inside scoop as to where their students came from and what their world ( or their parents) world was like in their home country; they simply cannot relate to their students in a truly culturally competent way. In a world as diverse as we live in, it's important to have cultural sensitivities but it is MORE important to have a cultural understanding of the people you are working for and with or for that matter, sharing a community with.
We can take all of the cultural training classes we want but there is nothing like experiencing a culture first hand. When I can speak to my little kiddos about their home state of Michoacan in Mexico or of their home city of San Salvador, El Salvador, a look of homecoming sweeps across their little faces, their eyes light up and they marvel at the fact that I KNOW about their home and our connection becomes deeper. Having the experiences I have had in Mexico, Central America and beyond have deepened my understanding of cultural customs and norms. Things that once seemed really foreign and "weird" to me are now understood and respected. Not only am I more respectful of things that once appeared to be so different from my way of doing things but the children and families that I work with also deepen their respect for me as they see me as someone who has something in common with them. I become a piece of their world and working together towards a successful future with them has just gotten a lot easier.
Whether you work in corporate America and travel for work and deal with international clients or you're a teacher, doctor, nurse, bus driver or a social worker, whatever you do for a living, the chances of you interacting with another culture is pretty darn good. If you ask me, there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to understand someone and how and why they do the things they do OR what they are saying If you're like me, you ask a lot of questions that most people wouldn't ask, you go to places where most people would feel like an outsider or you travel to places others deem as dangerous to discover the answers to your questions. My guess is that most people are NOT like me. Instead of taking the time to get to know someones culture, often times we resort to what we THINK we know about them based on what our limited experience has been. On the flip side of that coin is the reality that others are making assumptions about us and our culture. In our society, sometimes it just comes down to a matter of lack of time and money and even personal energy to dive into really looking deeper into the world around us.
The long and short of this is . . .
I can talk all day about how travel can impact our lives in such enriching ways. I can tell you how traveling will help bridge cultural gaps and bring our communities into more cohesive, less divisive places. I can tell you just how many different experiences I have had while traveling that have helped me live life happier and more fulfilled. I can tell you all of these things but it won't matter to you.
What does matter though is that I hope to plant a seed of thought and hopefully action for you to consider travel as a way to truly improve your lives ~ both professionally and personally. Living a life full of experiences that enhance, inspire and improve our lives is essential to our over all well being as a population of people who all call the same planet home.
There is nothing so rewarding as understanding ourselves and others better and working harmoniously together. One way that we can achieve this is to set our sights on other horizons and embrace the experience fully. Dive head first into it. If you don't know how to start, talk to me; after all, I am a Travel Ambassador.