In January of last year, I decided to move away from traditional classroom teaching to embrace fully a conviction I have long held. Namely, that travel, or what I call purposeful wandering, opens us up to some of the most transformational experiences imaginable. In a moment in which the things that ostensibly divide us routinely get top billing in the headlines and thus in our collective consciousness, I want to advocate the benefits of seeing the world and encountering, up close, the myriad cultures, languages, and customs that make it so rich. The major discovery, which each of us knows at our core but nevertheless sometimes forget, is that we humans have far more in common than the details that differentiate us.
We have developed this perspective over years spent traveling widely. In this experience and thinking, we keep good company — travel guru Rick Steves remarks, in his exceptionally insightful TEDx talk from 2011: "Travel wallops my ethnocentricity." His exposition of "thoughtful travel" aligns with the Ananda Expeditions philosophy. As he says in closing: "Travel has inspired me to be engaged, and to do what I can to make a difference — in other words, it's helped me to become a better citizen of this planet. And I hope thoughtful travels can do the same for you."
We must not let fear curtail our world-wandering ways. As Travel + Leisure's editor, Nathan Lump, articulates: "Travel fosters human understanding, and empathy for people whose lives are unlike your own; it opens your eyes to otherness, including other cultures and religions. [...] Travelers are, ultimately, the enemies of terrorists, and what they believe works against terrorists’ aims, person by person and little by little." Hear, hear.
Our thoughts are with all the many families affected by the far-too-numerous, senselessly violent attacks inflicted on the global community. Now, let's get out there and keep connecting with one another, crossing all the borders and barriers we can.