This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Travel, Knowledge, And Responsibility...

There was a time when a story like the recent earthquake in Peru would pass through my mind as yet another event happening somewhere else in the world…a tragedy, no doubt, but hurricanes, tsunamis, political unrest, terrorist plots, bank robberies, murders, stock market crashes—there’s always something happening, somewhere in the world, and it’s always happening simultaneously with a multitude of other things. One could easily think that just existing is hard enough without taking on the miseries on the world’s shoulders, too.

However, as the world’s gotten smaller, I’ve gotten older. As the information age has spun into overtime, I’ve become hungrier for knowledge. As I’ve forced myself to think outside the box, I’ve found that I’ve left the box behind. The world is an oyster and it’s in my hands. The stamps in my passport tell the story.

“Look closer,” I tell myself, “Pay attention. Take risks. Travel.”

Long ago, I made travel and gaining knowledge about other cultures a priority worthy of my undertaking. However, with both of those goals comes responsibility. As a traveler, you become an ambassador of your own country, whether you like it or not. When you open yourself up to other cultures, you realize both the comforts (and the shortcomings) of your own.

You learn that the world has been telling you its secrets all along. You just weren’t there to listen. Travel opens up all your senses and allows you to understand the world, its people, and yourself much better than you ever thought possible. As frequent travelers know, you must leave in order to truly arrive.

When I can't physically travel, I allow myself to travel vicariously by learning the ways of people in other lands and conversing with pen pals I’ve gained in other countries. Through both pen pals and my travel experiences, I've learned that despite our differences, we all very much the same.

So when there’s a major earthquake in Peru, I cannot just dismiss it. I know someone in Peru, someone I’ve never met, someone named Leyla.

When the news first broke, I sent her a frantic e-mail, knowing full well that that my message may never go answered. Thankfully and miraculously she wrote back with this subject line:

“I’m ok.”

Technology has allowed us to come together as nations and as people of a common planet. Like paper dolls, we join hands across the land and seas of our world and connect across cultures through the internet and other means.

As people we need to realize that we are only as strong as our weakest link and being human, we are all vulnerable to what the world throws at us as well as the sorrows we inflect upon ourselves as a species.

The borders of our countries are but lines on the palm of a planet whose future clearly depends on us. The most we can do is travel, learn about each other, and understand that a ripple in the world’s landscape expands to affect us all, whether we realize it or not.

*Leyla's original text e-mail appears above in a more recent post put up today*

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