China’s Great Wall
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou
“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
I’m so fortunate to have traveled, I never take for granted the opportunities I’ve had and I’m very grateful. Travel has opened my eyes, made me interested in history, geography, geology, archaeology, languages, cultures, and more. I’m amazed at how exposure to other countries has profoundly affected how I see the world.
I have a better understanding of news events if I’ve been to the country being discussed. When China is in the news I picture the hundreds of cranes over Beijing, building boom, brand spanking new buildings and historical gems co-mingling, traffic jams, millions of bicycles, smog, young people constantly on cell phones, elderly in the grey “pajamas” doing tai chi in the parks; and Shanghai, European architecture, global financial center, huge port, art deco buildings, diverse population, western suits and expensive cars. Conversely I picture the other side of China, rural farmers living in huts with mud floors, wood cooking fires, and gas lamps, no running water, no electricity, subsisting much as they did hundreds of years ago. Having been there, if only for a short time, gives me insight into the culture and helps me understand news events.
Farm kitchen central China
Morning Tai chi in a Beijing park
Similarly when Middle East issues are reported I picture walking through the three sections of the walled city of Jerusalem – Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, seeing how the three religions share the same ancient past, each resenting the others claim. I stayed overnight at a kibbutz; drove along the fencing of the Gaza strip; crossed the Sinai Desert flanked by armed guards; drove through crowded and smoggy Cairo; saw farmers along the Nile using ancient plows and oxen; met preteen girls sitting all day weaving rugs for tourists; spoke to our wonderful Egypt guide who couldn’t leave Egypt without written permission from her husband; and I looked out from atop Masada at how very close Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria are to one another. Travel gives you insight.
Border between Isreal and Eygpt
Our guards crossing the Sinai
Preteen girls weaving rugs
Kids selling handmade dolls
When you travel we begin to realize you can’t look at people from other cultures with the same lens as you do other North Americans. Traveling helps you change lens so you can see people from other cultures through the lens of their history, geography and religion.
I hope my grand-children are able to travel so they too can be open and accepting of that which is different from their world.
My three year old granddaughter pointing to my whereabouts last fall in France on her own map.