After eight years of regular travel and moves to three countries, I would be remiss if I did not begin to swiftly tap a few thousand keystrokes every so often to recount my evolving education. I travel to learn yet it is my journeys that have created more questions than answers. I venture to Brazil to experience Carnaval. But I leave contemplating how the nation’s inequality has indirectly caused me to go without jewelry there for a week. I explore Moscow to get an idea of what makes Russians tick in a world of Putin. But I leave with an increased sense of understanding of why smiles there aren’t exactly commonplace.
And in each country I slip out of, I take away a conversation that makes me think. It might be with a new friend or it might be with the Cambodian salon owner who just gave me a $6 hair cut, but it makes me think. I absorb new ways to get rid of my rubbish, practice the right approaches at the post office, and familiarize myself with the best local brands to buy at the grocery store. Perhaps this is what makes the cycle so meaningful.
Throughout my jaunts, I strive to connect with a place: its people, its aura, its smells, its motivations. For it’s through these that we develop empathy, quite possibly the most instrumental quality a leader today can embody. Still, my interactions with people of different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, political beliefs, etc. around the world have subconsciously shaped the person I continue to become. Some of you are lucky enough to have experienced all of these things in your very own backyard. However, without consistently traversing distant landscapes alone (and with friends, too!), I am not sure I would have.
OK. What is this blog all about? As the title says, life as an emigrant, or immigrant. Really, I am both. What else? Learning. Connecting. Growing. Independence and interdependence.
“I am because you are.” (Ubuntu) Because in the end, we are all the same. So, come away with me, a million miles away.