Growing a Little Perspective

As a thirteen-year-old, going to England seemed like an exciting adventure. No parents watching my every move, and this new culture was interesting. It was just similar enough that the aspects that differed about our cultures just seemed odd, but not bad.Fast forward to college, and my nineteen-year-old self wanted to go on a much more exciting adventure… I decided to literally go to Timbuktu, in West Africa! I approached that trip much differently… I felt sorry for the people living there. Admittedly I have lived a very good life, and I knew in this area money was tighter and the life they lived would look like poverty. However, I embraced what this trip could be! I toured the city, I rode a boat down the Niger river, I went into remote villages, and I met locals. Though I thought I loved traveling after going to the United Kingdom, I think the travel bug really bit me hard in Africa!

My entire perspective of other cultures changed. Huts were no longer signs of poverty, they were simply houses. The huts they lived in didn’t have to be large because no one spent their time inside. People cooked outside, and spent time with others outside, and played outside. Really the only time they were inside was to take naps in the afternoon (when it was entirely too hot) or sleep at night.

No longer was going to the market a sign of a lower community. Going to the market was a social event. I am now seeing this concept pop up more in the United States through local farmer’s markets. The Africans did not need supermarkets because the goal was not to go in and pick from a selection so you get exactly what you want. Instead I saw people bring what they had to exchange with what others had. They would help themselves by helping others.

Now, this is not saying I didn’t see poverty. I saw how they needed clean water, and I saw how they could benefit from some form of sewage system. However, even those improvements I saw in a new light.

I wanted to finish up the series on worldview by discussing how seeing a “new” normal shows children their normal isn’t always the only correct way. I wanted to end this series on a good note, and having our children see a tangible visual of the world being much broader than their bubble is definitely a good note.

We want to introduce our children to differences in cultures and people to help them grow their love toward others. As a parent, I want my children to love all people. I want them to grasp that what they know is not always how others do things, and that is not always bad.

In fact, in the example I started with, when I saw how the people in Mali lived their lives revolving around the community it changed how I saw my community. I realized how individualized our culture in the United States is, and more importantly I realized some of the reasons I had struggled with feeling so lonely. I loved seeing how community focused they were.

More than that, I want my children to see those things! I want them to see how lucky they are to have running water and sewage, but I want them to also see how to serve others in ways that may bring happiness to both them and others.

Every few hundred feet the world changes.                                                          Roberto Bolaño

As I have traveled more, I have many more examples of learning about my culture through other cultures. I have begun to see flaws and beauty among every culture, and that has not only affected my view of the world but also my worldview.

My normal life has been touched by many areas of this world and I hope to continue to grow in that way. More importantly, I am taking my children along for the ride so that their normal life will continue to form based on more than just one way of life.