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Author Topic: We must leave U.S. to appreciate it more. An essay about traveling and learning  (Read 5687 times)

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I stumbled upon the follwing article. Take your time to read it through, it might help you see things in another perspective.
Happy travel  8)

We must leave U.S. to appreciate it more
PRATIK PATEL
Published May 23, 2004

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The shadows of the Sahara are fading. The snows of Kilimanjaro are melting. The mists of the Amazon are clearing. Get up, go out, and explore. There are places in this world that still bring out the raw essence of what it means to be human, what it means to feel alive.

There is a primitive nature in some of us that makes us seek that which is untamed. This is the phenomenon that makes us want to get out of our shells and live and encounter that which those who came before us experienced. And even though they are rare and far between, there are places on this earth where we can still do it.

But unfortunately, those places fade every hour human life evolves. As a new road is paved through the desert, an age-old desert culture that has stood as a silent witness to the passage of time slowly begins to deteriorate.

As a new mobile phone tower goes up in the Amazon, a few thousand-year-old trees perish, and with them a myriad of plants and animals that we have yet to discover. I was born in East Africa, and ever since I can remember, my father made a point of having my brother and me travel. Travel not only to the world's most pristine places, but also to the world's most horrific places. When we were young, and if we wanted a Nintendo, we'd have to do loads of studying, and a great many chores for it. However, if we wanted to go out and explore, my father never minded, whatever the cost. He knew that some things were priceless.

My father taught me that the key to understanding the human heart is an open mind, and the key to an open mind is experience - experience of all people and their customs. So at the age of 23, I've been around the world - both to places people dream of, and places people have nightmares of. It has been a long journey, a journey of the mind, a journey of the heart, a journey that has taught me to love the way I live today.

The Amazon taught me that hot showers should never be taken for granted. The Himalayas taught me there are places so cold and inhospitable that the human body cannot survive without outside help. The Sahara taught me that good meals should never be wasted, for the time and place of your next one isn't a guarantee. But most of all, my travels to remote areas taught me that all the things I had once considered necessities in life were actually luxuries to those in other parts of the world.

I wanted a car; they wanted running water. I wanted a bigger house; they wanted constant electricity. I wanted a satellite television; they wanted a black-and-white television. I wanted a cell phone, pager, and Internet access; they wanted a simple telephone for local calls.

For two weeks in April, I had the privilege to live in one of those places, albeit for a short while. I was in western Egypt, near the Libyan border, a place called the Great Sand Sea. It is the core of the vast Sahara desert, a place where a nomadic culture still exists like it has for the past five centuries, a place where the 20th century has yet to emerge from the sand dunes of time.

I arrived in the Siwa oasis only to take a trek into the desert with the Berber people. Unfortunately, I was with them only for a few days, and while I still know only little about their culture, their customs and their language, I do know that you can see further in the cold Sahara night than any place I've ever visited.

I know now that a combination of boiled orange, papaya and mango leaves will clear the malaria parasites when modern medicine is not available. And I also know that a few drops of pure oil from the eucalyptus tree mixed with hot water can do wonders for a headache or sinus problem.

Knowledge acquired for a primitive sense of survival is the greatest type of learning. While most of the knowledge I acquired in Egypt was amazing to say the least, there was something quite disturbing to me.

I was not so naive as to think that American influence was great in the Middle East. I expected to encounter some unsubtle stares, crude remarks, and shallow dislike. What I did not expect was that there are some places in Egypt, away from the great metropolitan areas, where an age-old desert law still exists.

It is in these places where American influence was not only neutral, but rather downright dangerous. Many travelers into Egypt come from Western Europe and Asia, with only a handful from the States nowadays. The color of my skin served as a camouflage from most of the nuisances, as most Egyptians recognized me to be from either Spain, India or South America. When I revealed my nationality to them, a sudden coldness overcame them.

Please do not misunderstand me: My time in Egypt was amazing. My last two trips out of the country have been to Egypt and France. There is a difference between the two countries. The French do not conceal their bitterness toward the Americans, while most Egyptians, out of their calm nature, do try to conceal it. I don't hide from it either; maybe it's not the smart thing to do, but showing my passport when checking into hostels was an act of defiance, something I did and still do with great pride and humility.

I am a citizen of the United States, but also a citizen of humanity. I do not believe that I should be restricted or advised not to go to some places just because our governments are not on the same page. I want to go to Jerusalem, I want to see all that I have read about, the birthplace of three faiths. I want to go to Jordan and Syria, to see ruins of the Great Roman Empire. I want to go to these lands to see the monuments left by our ancestors, but also because I want to see how another culture lives.

One thing I've learned over the years is this: The human spirit is unconquerable. I learned that war, disease and terrorism will not kill us. But our ignorance will. We live in an amazing country, in a good, comfortable time where life's inconveniences are at their most convenient. Modern plumbing, constant electricity and satellites floating around the earth let us enjoy more out of life than perhaps any other time in history.

And while this is a testament to our country's fathers and our country's past, it can also blind us to the way the rest of the world lives, and thus take away the appreciation and thanks we should have.

So during Christmas, instead of buying your children the new game console and games worth $500, buy them plane tickets outside of North America. Sure, they won't like it then, and they'll whine and fuss about it. But I guarantee you that years from now, when they are grown up and ready to go out on their own, they'll come back and thank you.

And more importantly, you'll thank yourself.

- Pratik Patel, a Lecanto High School graduate, is studying law and medicine at Harvard.

(from the St Petersburg Times)
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"He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

Justin Akers

  • Guest

Awesome article.  This guy really knows what he's talking about.


I stumbled upon the follwing article. Take your time to read it through, it might help you see things in another perspective.
Happy travel  8)

We must leave U.S. to appreciate it more
PRATIK PATEL
Published May 23, 2004

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The shadows of the Sahara are fading. The snows of Kilimanjaro are melting. The mists of the Amazon are clearing. Get up, go out, and explore. There are places in this world that still bring out the raw essence of what it means to be human, what it means to feel alive.

There is a primitive nature in some of us that makes us seek that which is untamed. This is the phenomenon that makes us want to get out of our shells and live and encounter that which those who came before us experienced. And even though they are rare and far between, there are places on this earth where we can still do it.

But unfortunately, those places fade every hour human life evolves. As a new road is paved through the desert, an age-old desert culture that has stood as a silent witness to the passage of time slowly begins to deteriorate.

As a new mobile phone tower goes up in the Amazon, a few thousand-year-old trees perish, and with them a myriad of plants and animals that we have yet to discover. I was born in East Africa, and ever since I can remember, my father made a point of having my brother and me travel. Travel not only to the world's most pristine places, but also to the world's most horrific places. When we were young, and if we wanted a Nintendo, we'd have to do loads of studying, and a great many chores for it. However, if we wanted to go out and explore, my father never minded, whatever the cost. He knew that some things were priceless.

My father taught me that the key to understanding the human heart is an open mind, and the key to an open mind is experience - experience of all people and their customs. So at the age of 23, I've been around the world - both to places people dream of, and places people have nightmares of. It has been a long journey, a journey of the mind, a journey of the heart, a journey that has taught me to love the way I live today.

The Amazon taught me that hot showers should never be taken for granted. The Himalayas taught me there are places so cold and inhospitable that the human body cannot survive without outside help. The Sahara taught me that good meals should never be wasted, for the time and place of your next one isn't a guarantee. But most of all, my travels to remote areas taught me that all the things I had once considered necessities in life were actually luxuries to those in other parts of the world.

I wanted a car; they wanted running water. I wanted a bigger house; they wanted constant electricity. I wanted a satellite television; they wanted a black-and-white television. I wanted a cell phone, pager, and Internet access; they wanted a simple telephone for local calls.

For two weeks in April, I had the privilege to live in one of those places, albeit for a short while. I was in western Egypt, near the Libyan border, a place called the Great Sand Sea. It is the core of the vast Sahara desert, a place where a nomadic culture still exists like it has for the past five centuries, a place where the 20th century has yet to emerge from the sand dunes of time.

I arrived in the Siwa oasis only to take a trek into the desert with the Berber people. Unfortunately, I was with them only for a few days, and while I still know only little about their culture, their customs and their language, I do know that you can see further in the cold Sahara night than any place I've ever visited.

I know now that a combination of boiled orange, papaya and mango leaves will clear the malaria parasites when modern medicine is not available. And I also know that a few drops of pure oil from the eucalyptus tree mixed with hot water can do wonders for a headache or sinus problem.

Knowledge acquired for a primitive sense of survival is the greatest type of learning. While most of the knowledge I acquired in Egypt was amazing to say the least, there was something quite disturbing to me.

I was not so naive as to think that American influence was great in the Middle East. I expected to encounter some unsubtle stares, crude remarks, and shallow dislike. What I did not expect was that there are some places in Egypt, away from the great metropolitan areas, where an age-old desert law still exists.

It is in these places where American influence was not only neutral, but rather downright dangerous. Many travelers into Egypt come from Western Europe and Asia, with only a handful from the States nowadays. The color of my skin served as a camouflage from most of the nuisances, as most Egyptians recognized me to be from either Spain, India or South America. When I revealed my nationality to them, a sudden coldness overcame them.

Please do not misunderstand me: My time in Egypt was amazing. My last two trips out of the country have been to Egypt and France. There is a difference between the two countries. The French do not conceal their bitterness toward the Americans, while most Egyptians, out of their calm nature, do try to conceal it. I don't hide from it either; maybe it's not the smart thing to do, but showing my passport when checking into hostels was an act of defiance, something I did and still do with great pride and humility.

I am a citizen of the United States, but also a citizen of humanity. I do not believe that I should be restricted or advised not to go to some places just because our governments are not on the same page. I want to go to Jerusalem, I want to see all that I have read about, the birthplace of three faiths. I want to go to Jordan and Syria, to see ruins of the Great Roman Empire. I want to go to these lands to see the monuments left by our ancestors, but also because I want to see how another culture lives.

One thing I've learned over the years is this: The human spirit is unconquerable. I learned that war, disease and terrorism will not kill us. But our ignorance will. We live in an amazing country, in a good, comfortable time where life's inconveniences are at their most convenient. Modern plumbing, constant electricity and satellites floating around the earth let us enjoy more out of life than perhaps any other time in history.

And while this is a testament to our country's fathers and our country's past, it can also blind us to the way the rest of the world lives, and thus take away the appreciation and thanks we should have.

So during Christmas, instead of buying your children the new game console and games worth $500, buy them plane tickets outside of North America. Sure, they won't like it then, and they'll whine and fuss about it. But I guarantee you that years from now, when they are grown up and ready to go out on their own, they'll come back and thank you.

And more importantly, you'll thank yourself.

- Pratik Patel, a Lecanto High School graduate, is studying law and medicine at Harvard.

(from the St Petersburg Times)
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Corsair

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E-X-C-E-L-L-E-N-T! :D

Agreed on all the above and as a traveller of a hundred plus countries, I have experienced some of the stuff mentioned in the article.
To travel the world is the school that teaches you the most, especially about yourself.

 
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To die? No, I climbed up there to LIVE!

trunl

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makes you think.....


trunl
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