Monday, June 29, 2015
5:19 PM | Posted by Ashley G. |
I have always said that I wanted to “change the world”. Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” is a motto that I have always strived to live by. Despite this fact, as I began to write this blog post and attempted to think of a time when I was an “agent of change,” I came up with very few examples of me actually doing anything to change the world. While I have always tried to be open-minded during my travels, the purpose of my travels is generally to have fun and relax, to escape my every day life. I have never done anything extraordinary. I haven’t helped a village build a clean water source. I haven’t fed starving kids. I have never done anything extraordinary. But then again, maybe I have. Maybe to be an agent of change, you don’t have to do this huge thing like build a school for orphaned children, but instead, simply come into a culture open-minded and leave with a better understanding of their culture and the world.
Debbie Lisle states “that travelogues play an active role in the reproduction of discursive hegemony and can therefore be held responsible in some measure for the political consequences of those forces” (261). We, as, travelers are responsible for our actions and the consequences of those actions. If instead of trying to portray ourselves as superior during our travels and our writing, we attempt to see the world in a new light and show that to others then perhaps that is also being an agent of change.
A friend of mine went on a trip to Haiti a few years ago. While there, she helped the locals build houses and other buildings. She spent time with these adorable Haitian children. She told me upon returning home that the experience changed her life; that she now looked at life differently. It’s something that I couldn’t 100% relate to or understand because it wasn’t something that I had experienced.
Now, as stated earlier I haven’t done anything remotely close to that. However, I think that I have had an experience that is similar, at least in the idea that I have experienced a life changing moment during my travels.
When I was in high school, I went on this trip with my youth group to Birmingham, AL, which is about three hours north of where I live. While on this trip, we broke up into groups. Some people went and helped repair houses, while others hosted Vacation Bible School in different areas throughout the city. I chose to be part of the group that did the VBS program because let's be honest no one wants me repairing their roof. It's just not a good idea! While there, I met this little boy named Roberto. I would say that he was around the age of four. Roberto was the sweetest, most loving kid I had ever met. The only problem was that Roberto didn’t speak much English and I didn’t speak any Spanish (other than hello and goodbye). However, we communicated the best we could (mostly by an older kid that was bi-lingual translated for us) and by the end of the week, I was completely attached to this kid. There were a lot of other kids there but Roberto is the one that truly stands out in my memory. Roberto taught me a lot of things that week. Although we didn’t speak the same language and we didn’t come from the same background we still had this thing, this huge thing in common. I think it’s something that people of all cultures and backgrounds have in common, the ability to love and the desire to be loved.
This realization reminded me of Jacqueline Novogratz’s TED Talk. In it, she encourages us to take the more difficult path and live a life of transcendence and immersion. She goes on to state that we need leaders that believe that we are all created equal. She makes a great point. Even though Roberto and I had our differences, we still created equal.
In Steves’s YouTube video, he talks about how there are so many Americans that are “dumbed-down”. They visit these wonderful, spectacular places and experience these historic events, yet they simply don’t get it. They don’t understand the importance and they don’t want to understand it. But I do.
Roberto taught me to look at the world with love and compassion. While I may not have helped starving kids in Africa, maybe I can be an agent of change by striving to see the world in a different light and share that with others. Instead of focusing on all of the differences we have, what if we looked at all of our similarities? Wouldn’t that make the world a much more pleasant place to live? Wouldn’t the world be so much more beautiful? I think so and I just hope that maybe, just maybe, I’ll live to see just the smallest change in the world.
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