A question that may not daunt us all but probably should...
Traveling is one of the greatest privileges life can offer. How incredibly BLESSED are we to be able to travel to other countries and meet their people, taste their food, experience their way of life, and learn first hand about their history and culture?!?!
That's what travel is... it's experiencing and appreciating cultures different than our own. But when and how do we stay humble and when do we allow ourselves to be proud?
I just recently spend 10 days in Peru where the streets are dirty, food is not refrigerated well, we couldn't drink their water, we saw handy-capped people with no assistance, and toilet-paper is a hot commodity - not to mention there are areas that tourists go that just got their first line of electricity not even 10 years ago.
This experience was incredibly humbling. We American's travel to 2nd and 3rd world countries and rarely think of the impact we have on the country but also tend to not appreciate it for what it is or too soon forget.
So yes, I am proud of the fact that I can afford to travel to countries like Peru and know that I am wanted there for the impact that I have on their economy and their people. Some of this is in part to which family I was born into and how I was raised, but nonetheless, I can be grateful and proud at the same time. Tourism provides so many jobs and income for the economy. Not to mention jobs and the economy, we can provide these people, who may never visit another country, an opportunity to experience different people. We can teach the inhabitants of a country something about us and our own country while we are there... and that can be a really special thing too.
However, I am also humbled by these people and their way of life. I am humbled by the fact that these native people have lived so long without the luxuries I live with today. I am humbled by the fact that they may never see another country other than their own. I am humbled by the fact that they are happy regardless of their situation or what materialistic things they may or may not have. I am humbled by the simple things. It makes me appreciate where I am and who I interact with even more. I am so grateful to be able to experience other cultures and to travel to communities around the world that embrace me.
So how should you be humble and when can you feel proud? This is ultimately, up to you of course. As I can only speak from my own experience, this is my simple word of advice. Whether it is your first time traveling or your 30th, you are allowed to feel proud of getting yourself there. Whether you paid for your trip, or part of it, or not at all. You can be proud of yourself for taking the risk, getting outside of your comfort zone, and going. BUT - don't forget to soak in where you are. You are in someone else's home, surrounded by someone else's language and food and way of life. Whether the country is richer or poorer than your own, appreciate the differences for what they are. Learn about their culture, support their people, follow their customs and their laws, be respectful of their people, and appreciate it. Be humbled by the fact that the world is so much larger and profound than you will ever be and seek comfort in that.
My goal in life is to never lose touch of the gratitude I have for the country I am in, especially the more I see.
Till next time,