Venturesome Travellers !
My experience has been that the more we travel, the more we want to travel. Further, as our collection of travel experiences grows, the inherent characteristics of travel that we seek changes. With increasing exposure, self-indulgent hedonistic escapades gradually make way to more searching exposure to cultural diversity, and encounters that are personally uncharted, both in respect to people and landscapes. This unfolding attribute of ‘tourists’ has a significant body of research written about it and the phenomenon of the ‘venturesome’ tourist is well established.
What does it take to change a persons perspective ?
Still, travel is all about ‘us’ and never about the ‘others’, the lands or people that we visit. We naturally tend to focus on the unfolding of a journey as it affects or impacts on us. It is an intrinsic part of our makeup to focus on our feelings, our experiences, and our perceptions while in someone else’s place. Mason Cooley a respected academic, known for his aphorisms observed that :
" Travellers never think that they are the foreigners. "
What do we actually think when we travel?
So, when does a turning point occur, when the traveller takes the time to see the world from ‘the others’ perspective, rather than their own.
Like most travellers, I thought I had a pretty good handle on being able to envisage life within the places and peoples that I had travelled through. However, working closely with communities brings empathy, but does not necessarily bring a clarity of understanding. Perhaps, a relevant analogy occurs with our physical eyesight, where, only 35 % of people have 20/20 vision, although most of us will think that our own field of vision is commendable.
A personal tipping point.
For me, it took a calamity of the scale of Cyclone Pam to install a more veracious view of the same communities. We are so sensitised to images of people in poverty through exposure to the Media, that it is not until we find ourselves in the turmoil of an unfolding human catastrophe, that clarity of perspective occurs.
Is this a thread that permeates through those that travel by the ‘road less travelled'? The substantial number of small groups of ‘outsiders’ that band together around small developing communities seem to affirm this is so.
Our Reaction to Poverty ?
What is to be done, we cannot help the whole world, but we can help those around us. It is certainly not the purpose of this discourse to portray or convince people that there is human misery out there. Further, the communities themselves make it very clear that they don’t want pity, but instead, they wish to be able to grasp opportunities.
Personally, I would like to be part of a small movement that facilitates communities take advantage of opportunities that already exist around them. Developing Pacific nations are our neighbours and are amongst the least developing nations in the world. Tourism is a way in which all of us can contribute at grass root level, lifting villages out of their poverty trap. Installing mechanisms whereby communities can grasp onto opportunities to interact and engage with us is a ‘win-win’ for everyone.