Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's not the places you go, but the people you meet...

I've seen lots of cool places. Places that few people ever get to travel to and people only dream about seeing. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to travel; however, the best part of my travels is not everything I've seen, but it's all of the people I have met along the way. The opportunity to meet people from around the world and share who we are and share our culture with eachother is a once in a lifetime experience. Just the other night my friend Laura and I taught our new Dutch friends how to make s'mores, something they had never heard of before. It was a blast to be sitting at a little charcoal fire using chopsticks, fruit-flavored marshmellows, and cookie-like crackers, sharing a piece of our American culture with friends in the middle of our hostel in Chengdu. In my several weeks of travel I have already met people from Austrailia, Sweden, The Netherlands, England, South Africa, Germany, Mexico, Korea, Norway, even America, and of course China. Meeting these people from all over the world has given me a real understanding of how big and yet small the world is. Having the chance to learn about countries that my understanding of goes no further than where it is on a map, has been something I would never trade. It has made me appreciate how many countries and cultures there are in the world, and that my country is not the only one that exists and of any note.

Most all of the people I have met speak English fluently as a second language and sometimes it is their first language. Each time I meet someone and start talking with them, I discover how each culture influences language and how English can be very different even in places like England and Australia. I have begun to envy all the Europeans that can speak fluent English yet still have their own language that they can speak (and no one else can understand it). It is fun being able to sit and listen to people speak in Dutch one second and then turn to you and start speaking English again. Languages really are a beautiful and amazing thing. They are so complex yet so simple.

In short, traveling has made me appreciate meeting people, making friendships, and building those friendships that I already have, because solely traveling and sightseeing is so empty and void compared to the joy of knowing people.