Monday, March 27, 2017

day94: have passport ready and waiting!

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, 
we may even become friends. 
Maya Angelou

I can not stress enough the importance of travel;
going abroad, living in different climates and cultures, figuring out how to navigate not know the native language, trying different foods and flavors.
Traveling offers so much to the traveler and to their own native country upon their return.  as Maya Angelou so explains in her quote, by traveling one sees the common thread of humanity.  

I also believe that traveling exposes us to uncomfortable situations that help us to expand our empathy and compassion for those who are different.  I believe if you are ever in a situation where you can not understand the language, even the most basic information is unattainable to you, that you will be more understanding of others who are having difficulties, be it with language, culture or customs.

And seeing the world can be done on the cheap.  Don't think that you need loads of money to see the world, there are Youth Hostels and train passes.
Take advantage of any travel opportunity, abroad or here at home.  The United States offers many different cultures and cuisines within its own borders.  However I do believe there is something profound about not standing on your native land, physically being out of your comfort/native zone.

I also believe it is important and a good practice to learn hello, please and thank you in the native tongue of the country that you are visiting! (merci)

Below is the poem Gate A-4Naomi Shihab Nye (1952)
I feel as this poem addresses some of the reasons I believe it is so important to travel. Enjoy, love, mom.

Gate A-4
Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning
my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement:
“If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please
come to the gate immediately.”

Well—one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just
like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,"
said the flight agent. “Talk to her. What is her problem? We
told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly.
“Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-
se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly
used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled
entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the
next day. I said, “No, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just later, who is
picking you up? Let’s call him.”

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would
stay with his mother till we got on the plane and ride next to 
her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just 
for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while
in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I 
thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know
and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling of her life, patting my knee,
answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool
cookies—little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and
nuts—from her bag—and was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the
lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same powdered
sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free apple juice from huge coolers and two
little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they
were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend—
by now we were holding hands—had a potted plant poking out of her bag,
some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country tradi-
tion. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This
is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that
gate—once the crying of confusion stopped—seemed apprehensive about
any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those otherwomen, too.

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

Naomi Shihab Nye, “Gate A-4” from Honeybee. Copyright © 2008 by Naomi Shihab Nye. 

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