Travel as a Higher Learning Experience

By Mark Antony Rossi 

I feel fortunate to have traveled to many parts of the world. It’s truly a wondrous experience to see, feel, and touch another culture. It changes you. Especially when you return home and hear ignorant comments that have no relation to reality. Americans generally think foreign citizens view them poorly because of the extent of our freedoms.

No doubt there is some truth to that perception; yet our lack of historical knowledge of international locales hinders communication and half nelson’s best intentions.

Viewing the world through the latest policy announcement or terrorist attack is not viewing the world at all but rather judging today what was different yesterday and may still change again tomorrow.

The strange irony is Americans don’t consider world history; yet a large part of the world only considers it. I was once told by a German resident “What do Americans know about the world we got castles here five times older than your country.”

Without starting an argument I suppose the Egyptian could lecture the German about the age of the pyramids versus those castles. But without overreacting I could see a point being made about having a wider view of what events have passed.

Yet history affects current events whether we admit it or not. I was a frequent train rider between Germany and France and noted the animosity of machine gun carrying border guards harassing French citizens. They were questioned first and then had their bags examined for hidden items that required a levy. The French did the same but neither asked me to declare anything and my bag was never inspected in the five years I rode the train.

The War their grandfather’s fought was still being waged on the outskirts of two former enemies. Maybe wars don’t really end and we still carry in our hearts the scars of grievance. Maybe we pass these unfair feelings to our offspring and thus never truly change the world from the inside.

I learned so much about my heritage from my visit to Italy. I could rave on about the art, the architecture and the beauty of the Vatican but the ultimate truth of a people is how they treat others.

I felt welcome and wanted. I’ve been to many-many places where this vibe was quite the opposite. And when these folks visit America I go out of the way to be welcoming and respectful.

Perhaps I can start changing the world by giving the strangers a hug and remembering we do not have to be prisoners of yesterday if we still believe in a better tomorrow.

About the Author: Mark Antony Rossi is a poet, playwright and author of the bioethics volume “Dark Tech” now available from Amazon. His most recent plays have been produced in Liverpool and New York. 

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One Comment

  1. Pamela Corbett says:

    Well said.

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