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People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built. Eleanor Roosevelt
It seems that with everything going on in the world today, honesty and courage seem to be a little lacking. However, I do believe that there are plenty of travelers out there that meet new places, new people with these two characteristics every day.
I’ve often heard, and have definitely said this myself, that travel is an education. However, just like sitting in a classroom, the student or traveler has to be ready to take the input and then take some time to process the new information before learning can occur.
To begin with, we have to get out there and go visit someplace new, preferably in another country. For many folks, this is where it all stops. They might not want to go because of being told over and over again how scary our world is. No one can dispute the fact that there have been some pretty scary things happening throughout the world in the last few years from terrorism to earthquakes. However, there have been plenty of spectacular things happening at the same time.
There have been a few times that I’ve been wary, okay scared to travel to a place. For example, Jim and I scared ourselves witless one night in Cape Town, South Africa because we’d heard so often how violent it is. It wasn’t the first or last time either. All of us, no matter how experienced, can fall victim to being scared, so that’s where the courage comes in. The courage to go ahead and take your chances, hoping that this place (like Turkey or Russia or you fill in the blank) will be just like all the others, just fine, as long as you take normal precautions.
If we hadn’t had the courage to drive in eastern Turkey, we would have never learned about the village women and men who truck it up to the mountains each summer day to milk sheep. Other lessons that would have escaped us are: just ask if there is something you want that’s not on the menu, getting into the countryside is best for meeting people, how to take advantage of where you are and learning how to make local delicacies, like churchkela.
Then there’s the honesty part. Just like facts or “alternative facts” via the media, the traveler must wade through the biases, the history, the backgrounds of his or herself as well as that of the local to learn something new and valuable.
Just recently we visited Uganda. We stayed in very comfortable, luxurious even, safari lodges where we were waited on and had all of our needs and wants taken care of by the staff. Since Jim and I drove and were on our own, we also noticed every day that people, young and old, were fetching water in yellow canisters. Even in the capital city, Kampala, not everyone has running water. Wow! If that isn’t an eye-opener, what is? We were living a first world life yet seeing a third world life. So, even though we found all the locals to be friendly and open, we also learned that their lives are not as easy as our own.
I could give you many examples where I’ve learned lessons that I could only have really understood by experiencing them myself while I was traveling, but I would rather hear what you’ve learned.
Do you have any examples of honesty and courage which led you to really learn a lesson?
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