The current situation in the world showed us how no matter our background, lifestyle, status etc. we are all humans with the same bodies, minds, souls, and spirits. It is easy to forget what it means being a human but I believe travelling does give us the opportunity to rediscover humanity.
Advance technology and globalization have allowed us the opportunity to travel and experience other places, countries, and cultures. Yet, people like to hang on to every little detail and difference in our background to differentiate ourselves from others.
There is no doubt that we have the unique attributes that we get from our environment, parents, education, culture, or ethnicity. And as someone who had the chance to experience completely different environments of my own, I can totally understand the feeling of being different.
In general, I quickly adapt to new cultures. My family lived as immigrants before, so they understand the concept of diversity and are much more open-minded. So, I learned from a young age to always accept and appreciate others no matter their nationality. Furthermore, my country is a cross-roads of three different continents. Thus, we have a mix of cultures from the various people who passed through our tiny island. And for this reason, I find it easy to understand other cultures.
When I travelled to East Asia, no matter how easily I could adapt to the new environment, the enormous difference was unquestionable. The difference between west and east could be seen in simple things such as my gestures, speech, and eating manners.
Throughout my journey to East Asia, I met incredible people, made new friends, and had the experience of a lifetime. I had the chance to live with local people and see life through their eyes. It was truly an unforgettable experience.
My last three weeks in East Asia were in South Korea, where I stayed in a small town in the country’s southern part. I participated in a volunteering project at an environmental center with a team of both Korean and international members.
Although I had the chance to participate in several projects over the last few years, I can confidently say that my experience in South Korea was the best. All the team members were equally kind and fun to be with, and altogether we created strong bonds as friends.
We spend two weeks together at the center working, sharing stories, having fun, and laughing. And then, on the last day, we embraced each other and cried. Years later, I reminisced these precious memories, and I can only smile brightly.
Nowadays, there are many projects worldwide where people can have cross-cultural experiences. They generally help the younger generations learn and appreciate diversity and understand people better.
My experience during those two weeks gave me a better understanding of cultures and people. But it was an ordinary day in Seoul that made me realize what understanding and sharing mean.
It was my last night in Seoul before going back home. As it was my last night, I went on a night out with my new Korean and international friends in one of the city’s popular areas. Unfortunately, my hostel was a bit far. Therefore, after a long night of dancing and singing, I had to take a taxi back for a few hours of sleep before my flight’s departure.
Usually, I don’t get emotional when it’s time to leave. After living abroad for so long, I became an expert in people coming and going from my life. But for the first time seeing my friends’ faces fading away from the taxi’s window made me realize the gravity of the word goodbye. It felt suffocating, thinking that I might not ever see them again. Silently I shed tears of both happiness and sadness. Happiness because I was privileged to meet these fantastic people and sadness because I had to say goodbye.
While the city was running in front of my eyes, the taxi driver realized my sorrow. Politely he asked me if I am alright. I said yes and tried to wipe my bittersweet tears. Realizing that I was not going to elaborate, the taxi driver started small talk. Firstly, I have to say how thankful I felt that finally one person knew my country. For people like me who come from a small nation, it’s truly a wonderful feeling. It feels like finally, I am acknowledged. Somehow, our small talk shifted into an in-depth conversation on topics such as politics and the economy. Indeed, an unusual end of a day and a trip.
While talking with the taxi driver on politics, corruption, unemployment, and education for the first time, I felt that no matter what background humans come from, they are just that. Humans. Undoubtedly, we have our differences concerning culture, language, ethnicity, race, or religion. Still, we all have the same worries, and we all struggle to make a living. Parents always worry about their children and strive to provide everything they can. Teachers are doing their hardest to bring up the best out of their students. Politicians all over the world try to do their best (or not) for their country. And in general, everyone on this planet is merely living with whatever this world can give them.
And at that moment, I realized the vulnerability of people and how people change into humans when you see the reality of life. Although often the word vulnerability gives off a negative vibe, I use people’s vulnerability as the humanity of people. And sometimes, being a vulnerable human-being with all your flaws is truly beautiful.
Thanks for reading 🙂