17 January 2013
I’m writing this blog post from the Mac computer lab on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus… For the past two days, I have driven from Galway, NY here to Boulder, CO. The first day I was able to caravan with family friends who were headed to Phoenix, AZ. The second day (yesterday) I was solo. I was able to see a good friend on my way through Kansas City, and I was also able to see Kansas from its Eastern border to its Western border. While still brown from winter hibernation, it was still beautiful in its own right. Blue bird skies, followed by a Kansas plains sunset, and finished by a crescent moon and star-filled skies.
This school year has been filled with travel. I was fortunate enough to be able to study in Central America for this past semester, and now I am fortunate again to able to spend time in the West. For me, though, travel is much more than being able to say, “Oh, I’ve been there.” But it’s more to be able to come back from a travel experience, and say, “This is what I saw…this is who I met…this is what I learned.”
Travel, to me, is possibly the best education that one can experience. Whether you are in your home state, home country, or abroad, each travel experience is valuable. You learn about the people of that place, you learn about the history of that place, and you are then able to understand the present reality that that place experiences. While in Central America, our program facilitator, Joe, always made sure to mention to be present to the experience. I feel that is not only applicable to everyday life, but most importantly, when traveling. To be able to experience a different reality, analyze that experience, and then share the effect the experience had on you is what traveling is all about.
At the end of the semester in Central America, I began to feel the large responsibility of sharing my experience, but also my understanding of the Central American peoples, with those back home, and those whom have never been there. To do so responsibly, justly, and respectfully is my greatest concern; as Joe told us, with benevolence. I began this week by giving a presentation at my high school, Galway High School, to two Spanish classes; one was a senior class, the other a junior class. It is through those two presentations, that I hope I was able to open those students’ minds to the realities of Central America, but also to inspire them to learn about the world that we live in. We are a global society, and it is only wise to learn and understand about other people, cultures, and nations. I hope that those two presentations helped to fulfill my responsibility of sharing my understanding and knowledge of Central America. This comes back to how I can help positively change the world. Yes, I can choose to support marriage equality, fair trade, and many other social justice issues, but furthermore, it’s important that I create concrete actions with my fellow humans. By giving those presentations at Galway High School, I hope that I gave back to my fellow humans as well as my community. Furthermore, I hope that I inspired those juniors and seniors that sat before me during my presentations. I saw a glint of that hope when visiting with my former health/homeroom teacher about our respective travels in Latin America, and a girl that had been in the junior class was in the room. Though she didn’t ask any questions during my presentation, she then did begin to ask me about my experience in Central America; the issue of safety, how religion affected my experience, and so on. Through that conversation, I felt hope for my generation, and I began to hope that I not only inspired her to travel and learn about our world, but her peers who sat beside her as well.
Not only do I strive to inspire my fellow humans to travel and learn, but I myself have been inspired to do so as well. My parents have been the most formative in exposing me to the possibilities of travel; also my brother, cousins, grandparents, teachers, and friends have too. Just yesterday, my friend Kelsey set out on a journey to Nicaragua for the semester. To head down sola is what I most admire about Kelsey, especially with never having been there before. I have yet to travel solo in Central America, or anywhere outside the United States, but to do so would teach me to be a better traveler and also teach me about myself as a person. Kelsey inspires me to strive to become a better traveler and person; to continue to step out of my comfort zone and experience something that I have never before experienced. Through such vulnerability hopefully comes strength and peace of mind. I can only imagine what Kelsey will experience while living the different realities of Nicaragua. I have lived some of those realities, and as a result, I fell in love with Nicaragua. I hope she does too.
So my friends, I ask you to continue to ask questions about the world and society we live in. I hope that when you travel, in or outside of the United States, that that experience will lead you to a better understanding of yourself and our global society. For knowledge is power, and through understanding comes peace.
Paz y amor from Colorado.