Travel has changed me, mostly for the better. Travel makes you tolerant, more sympathetic, and appreciate of others. In my case, especially for those who have less means. If you travel enough and far enough from home you will know exactly what I mean. Once a child in South Africa living with no inside plumbing asked my daughter how many bathrooms she had at home. I begged her with my eyes to answer one. We have more.
The two observations I want to make about travel are these. The first is this. I have encoutered scores of times, people with far less than me who appear much happier. I have tested this over and over and over. Whether in Egypt, Morocco, South Africa or Bali. I have seen pure joy in others who don't have a lot. They seem to get their joy from their environment and from the bonds they have with their family. I envy this. I try always to bring a bit of this joy making home with me. I try to get joy from living joyously and by sharing myself joyously.
The second observation is a bit more mind boggling. The second observation is the fact that no matter where I go outside of the US, the country where I end up...They always seem to know much more about America than we know about them. More of our history, past and present. More about our politics sometimes. They seem much more studied on our affairs than I can begin to know about theirs. I do not think I am alone.
This is particularly true when I am in Europe. Europeans run circles around my knowledge. I am only speaking for self. Their general curiosity far exceeds mine.
So here is a new promise I am making to myself. The next time I leave home, I am going to study up. My inkling is my travel will take on greater significance and I will better understand my role in it. Perhaps become a better teacher and student among those I encounter abroad and at home.
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky