, , , , , , ,

Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” – Frank Herbert

I love to travel! I sometimes spend my lunch hour dreaming up beach vacations to Madagascar, Fiji, Bora Bora and the Seychelles; or imagine myself exploring the lush forests of Mozambique, and Botswana. I see myself dancing and eating my way through Peru, Brazil and Colombia. I have discovered who I am through both my domestic and international travels. The ability to travel has changed my outlook on the world and how interrelated we are. It has given me a greater appreciation for other people and cultures.

I’ll never forget the first time I left the country. I was 18 years old and traveling to Saltillo, Mexico on a hot bus to go on a service trip with my church. I guess it was then that I got the travel bug. I knew then that travel needed to be more than a part of my  life but an integral part of  my career. When I graduated from college, I looked for jobs that would afford me the opportunity to travel. Working for Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization, I  have visited two-thirds of the United States.

Through personal and work related travels, I have been to Thailand,  Australia Haiti,  Costa Rica and Canada, on mostly a self-guided expedition through multiple cities, towns and villages. While each of these countries are unique with their own traditions, customs, culture and language there are some universal truths: everyone has the same basic needs and desires; people want health, security and a means to provide for themselves and their families and no single country or culture has a monopoly on beauty or pain.

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru

Traveling is a life changing event that everyone should experience. It’s exposure. It’s the breaking down of narrow-mindedness. It’s the reminder that you are more than a citizen of your state or country but a part of the greater world. Traveling brings curiosity. I love the way my ears perk up listening to a foreign language in search for meaning; trying new foods and appreciating the warmth of the sun. I am always humbled and in awe of how incredibly generous and hospitable people are towards me. Strangers suddenly become like close friends or family and prove that we are connected in our common humanity.

Travel also provides a window for others to view your culture and where you come from. I remember when I went to Australia, I met many young black people from all across the globe and we connected through soul and hip hop music. I was blown away when a young woman, Rose from Vanuatu, recited Biggie Smalls’ It was all a Dream verbatim. She was from a small village of 1,000 people and yet knew that song! This is just one example of the many priceless moments that happen when you encounter people from across the globe.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” St Augustine

If you haven’t been abroad I suggest you go! Students look into the study abroad opportunities at your institution. People of all ages, like my first trip can attend organized trips with their church or local community organizations. Look for employers who offer travel. And if that’s not convenient set up a travel fund account, put $20 a week away and before you know it your travel fund will fuel your first adventure. I encourage you to experience the world. You just may end up finding yourself.

Give HOPE. Live HOPE.

Sophia Lafontant
Guest Blogger

About the Author

Connect with Sophia on Twitter (@sophialafontant) and on Pinterest (@phiasola).
Like this post? Check out Embrace YOUR Global Citizenship! by Jabari Smith
We welcome you to become a guest contributor to the HOPE Blog. Details on the process to contribute can be found HERE.