International Travel — Bridges of Friendship

Much of my international travel is in support of humanitarian work, so, as a result, I see difficult places and hear gut-wrenching stories. I meet with people who are exhausted, yet full of joy. I dine with people who have given up everything, but have gained more than they could ever ask or imagine.

When traveling, one thing I always try to remember is to laugh at myself and with other people. If I can’t carry joy with me then I’m probably doing more harm than good.

One of my favorite things when I travel is befriending locals who never expected to make a friend. Shopkeepers, waiters or waitresses, taxi drivers, and hotel staff are all people I interact with daily. No matter where I go, the common language spoken between us is big smiles and laughter. My colleagues and I always do our best to be advocates of loving one another and building bridges of friendship across a variety of cultures.

The media may often tell us that my culture and another culture aren’t supposed to get along, but I never find that to be true when I climb into a taxi or order food at a restaurant. People everywhere are still people. I found this quote earlier today from a book I read years ago that sums this all up:

We crave kindness. We admire those who are strong yet gentle, patient, and in control of their thoughts, attitudes, and actions. — Jason Jaggard “Spark”

Every country I visit, I find that people simply crave kindness. Whether I like it or not, I represent more than just myself when I’m visiting other cultures and I hope that the strangers I meet will remember me as kind, humble, and someone who loves life.

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