“Reading the pages in the rich book of life”
“This phrase was painted in one of the hallways in eclectic form true of so many hostels around the world. It resonated enough that I took a photo to remember it always. Education through travel has been a big part of my life. If I think back to when I started realizing its impact on me, I would have been about 12 years old and in Acapulco with my parents. I vividly remember being struck by the young children milling about the city’s busy streets, selling Chiclets for whatever change they could inspire. Older women found their place on sidewalks accompanied by signs as testimony to their need for food and money.
I was acutely aware that though we were walking the same streets, our experiences were worlds apart. My appreciation for my good fortune in life became immediately evident and has remained with me to this day.
Since then, I’ve travelled to many developing countries where I’ve been reminded of how much of our lot in life can be determined by where we’re born. In fact, in May 2011 I travelled to Cambodia with Intrepid Travel. It was a rich experience in that there was a lot of interaction with locals and insight into how they really live. On the trip, we were hosted by a local family for an overnight stay. As our bus pulled into the small village, I was overwhelmed by the crowd of excited young children running toward us with their bright smiles and cheerful welcomes in tow. As we walked the dirt streets, they all walked, hopped and skipped alongside us asking our names and sharing theirs. Their warmth and excitement melted my heart.
On that same trip we also visited a remote fishing village. Clearly a million miles from home, I was confounded by the villagers’ obvious poverty and overriding happiness. With each step someone invited me to take their photo, thrilled when able to see how I had captured them on camera. One boy doing homework on his doorstep invited us to “friend” him on Facebook and shared his dream of studying English in university. I was thrilled to be in their company and thankful for the opportunity to have this insight to their life.
Living these experiences has been like reading the pages in the rich book of life. Each has changed me in a way that nothing else could have. I’ve been enriched being part of moments big and small, in many different circumstances that I would otherwise never have known. And with that, I look forward to the many new chapters and all the learning my upcoming travels will bring. Who knows where the next adventure will lead.”
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Photo: Michelle Di Rocco