I received a Facebook message today from a friend that I met the last time we were in Mexico. He lives in Mexico City with close to 9 million other people. To put that into perspective, fewer than one million people live in the entire state of North Dakota. Wow.
I Googled a map of Mexico to look at other cities along the shoreline that we could visit that were close enough for him to drive to meet us. As I scanned the map, I started to think about all of the places in the world to visit and experience and all of the people that we could meet along the way.
Before we started regularly traveling, I never would have imagined we could meet friends from so many different places. And thanks to the internet (and Facebook), we can stay in touch and communicate easily – even if we don’t share the same native language. In fact, with Google Translate, users can immediately translate any conversation from one language to another. While it may not be a perfect translation, it works pretty well.
In this volatile political climate where the President is attempting to ban people from specific countries (and religions), and supporters are rallying behind building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, I step back and wonder how we got to this place. How did good people from all across the United States, the greatest country in the world, come to a consensus that we should keep people who are “different” out?
Growing up in very rural Iowa (98.1% white county), I remember being taught that America is a mixed salad where different cultures and ethnicity’s would mix together to make a more beautiful and vibrant country. That’s a strange notion to someone growing up in a basically all white area. In fact, I didn’t meet anyone who wasn’t Lutheran until I was in 7th grade – the same year I met the first black person I would ever befriend.
When I moved away and attended college, I was flooded with new experiences and I grew to love meeting people from different places and different cultures. I started to truly understand why diversity is so important. There’s so much we can learn from one another. The people I’ve met from countries across the globe have broadened my understanding of cultures, civilizations, and how we aren’t really that different.
Traveling is more than cocktails and a tan. It’s the best way to connect with other cultures and people, giving you a sense of global connectivity to people completely different than yourself.