I have been thinking recently about why we travel and, after some consideration – a lot of consideration – have decided to put my two cents in on this debate.
To give this arguments some legs, I feel that I need to explain some of my current situation: I am getting married and my husband will be living in Germany for almost three years without me. If you know me (or have read any of this blog) you should know that this is hard for me, if only because I would love the chance to live in Germany and travel ALL THE TIME! Still, I am stay in SoCal because I am applying to schools here to get my teaching credential – California credentials are accepted more places and as my future involves moving every few years, having papers that easily transfer with me is key.
I have had a few critics of this choice; critics who keep telling me that I can teach English out there and get a teaching credential later. While I know these individuals are being supportive in their own way, I can’t explain how irritating it is to want to be able to do this but also knowing that my future really rides on me NOT taking this advice (there is more to this choice but I do not want to go into all the details here as they are personal but -trust me – very valid).
Still, all of this got me thinking about how people are able to travel all around the world and some of these situations we need to really think about before praising the options.
Just to kick up the drama: let’s face it…. I could never actually live in a hut.
A teacher asked this question when I was in college and looking back, I can’t believe how naive I was even thinking I could! I am not necessarily a consumerist, but I do acknowledge that I do not have the skill to add to this kind of community. No matter what I can add as a teacher or service person to these kinds of rural communities (and I am a very smart and resourceful person), any kind of travel aimed at really ‘helping’ these communities benefits me and my need to travel more than these communities.
This is different if you are in a field such as medicine, where your skills can really be put to use, but I am much more skeptical of my Comms friends who keep going out on ‘service travel.’ Most of the time, you stay in a place for a while, make connections, teach a little, but also party, take pictures for Facebook, and then you leave the community so a new group can come in and start the project all over again.
I am not – and will never claim – that these have no far-reaching effect on the communities supported by these efforts. There are always benefits, however, I am not sure they measure up as they could if we didn’t advertise these trips as post-grads excuse to travel the world with a little service thrown in.
We put a mask on these situations – a fantasy of what the world looks like so that we can come home to start our ‘real lives’ feeling more grateful for what we have. Again, I am not saying this is a bad thing, except that I have watched people come home and quickly fall back into the patterns of spending money on parties and going out and escaping their lives in a new way, rather than keeping the appreciation for the ‘simple’ life they seem to come home raving about.
So, to the critics, yes, I can go and travel and teach and do it all right now, but I can also do this down the line, because Germany isn’t going anywhere and sometimes, adulting does trumps running away from the hard choices.
But, again, this is just my opinion!
This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.