I am a big believer of love. True love, familial love, love for friends, love for a higher being, all love. I even have the word “love” tattooed on my arm! That’s how big of a believer I am! I believe in kindness and giving more than we take. Growing up, I started writing about “love” (or my idea of it) at a young age. I think my family was a bit worried, saying that I was talking about things I was too young for. It got me in trouble a few times, actually, when I wrote poems about finding true love. Hah, I wish I had some to show y’all!
But, that feeling I had in the pit of my stomach never subsided. Love has always been a big component in my actions. It’s the fuel that lights the fire and something I could go on and on about. Travel opens me up to receiving and giving more love than I could have imagined! I have friends scattered around the world, with different opinions and different cultures. I have “adopted” families in Spain that show me unconditional love and care! This “love” I experience daily makes me hopeful. It gives me strength, it fuels my passion, and it lets me believe that love trumps hate. Travel can teach us how our love will trump hate.
Ethnocentrism is the belief that your culture is better than another person’s culture. When we travel, we are outside of our comfort zones and in a completely new environment. International travel puts us in awkward situations, anxious situations, and the inevitable feeling of loneliness. Sometimes, we start to compare our cultures to a different culture, saying things are weird or strange. That, is ethnocentrism. When we start believing that one culture is greater than another, or comparing one culture to another, we start feeding into fear and ignorance.
Y’all, let me just let you know that ignorance is NOT bliss, it’s just
damn ignorance. But ignorance also thrives on fear and prejudice! The more I travel, the more I realize that to learn from cultures, and people, I need to be humble. Travel teaches me that love trumps hate, and although one culture can be EXTREMELY different than my own, I need to learn to respect it nonetheless.
Travel teaches me to be empathetic. Although, I definitely consider myself an overly empathetic person, it still teaches me that my heart can be BIGGER than what it is now! I see just how privileged I am when I travel to other countries. I’m spoiled, have been spoon fed my information, and don’t have to work to provide for my entire family. It’s taught me that I have it
damn fucking good, compared to others who fight every day for the rights that I so often take for granted. Travel has made me fall in love with places and a feeling of freedom, but has also broken my heart in numerous ways.
The empathy that I learn while being “on the road”, walking through the streets, and befriending someone from a different country has ultimately taught me we learn from each other. Empathy allows me to put myself in someone else’s situation and learn from it. It teaches me how I can create change for the better. My empathy helps me understand that, because of my privilege, it’s my duty to make differences for others who don’t have access to do so.
While being abroad, I met families that welcomed me into their homes like I was their daughter, and I’ve met others who’ve stared and pointed at me. I am familiar with micro aggressions to my race and ethnicity, even within the United States. My first reaction is to be angry, get upset, and shut them out. Through my experiences, I now know that attacking back doesn’t get me very far. Instead, I welcome questions and choose discussion over anger. It pains me, y’all, when people point at me and yell “chink” or pull their eyes back to make fun of my almond shaped eyes. But, it pains me even more when I fight back and leave angry and flustered. Hate and anger cannot beat hate and anger. Love trumps hate, so while I let my pride take a backseat, I welcome conversations and questions about my ethnicity.
I believe that to truly travel and appreciate the journey, we need to do it with an open mind. The act of traveling should be followed with an open mind! Once we leave our home countries, we will be put in situations that we probably wouldn’t have experienced had we not left. Travel has taught me to keep an open mind in everything that I do, give people the benefit of the doubt, and learn. It’s taught me that although I don’t understand something, doesn’t mean that I should blow it off. It’s taught me that respect for something I don’t understand is just as important. When I have a closed mind about people, cultures, countries, or even FOOD, it doesn’t let me understand and ultimately grow!
Love Trumps Hate
Y’all, if you get anything from my blog, I want to inspire, empower, and give you something to think about. Travel heals me, teaches me, and introduces me to new concepts that I didn’t think were possible! On each trip I take, I meet locals, expats, and other travelers who have warm hearts and are eager to learn. It’s made up for all of the assholes I also meet, who make comments about my ethnicity and my gender! There is good out there, and when I travel, I’m reminded that the human race craves connection. In order to make sure MY love trumps my “hate” or ignorance, I am always aware of ethnocentrism. I keep my empathy at hand and I keep an open mind.
*Although these are things that I learned while traveling, I think these three points are also important for our day to day lives.