International Ignorance

Travel is stupendous. Travel is a need more than a want. I crave its adventures and reap its benefits.

Benefits being self-improvement, self-actualization, relaxation, stimulating adventures, sights and  sounds, and most importantly, education. Education! It is so critical it deserves a repeat. Traveling teaches a person about culture (their own and of the places they visit), history, finances, organization, planning and people’s every day way of life. This leads to a (generally) greater understanding and awareness of other people’s lifestyle, and the why and how of such. I believe the more people know about and immerse themselves in other cultures, the less likely they are to stigmatize, judge and discriminate against a person in the future. After reading “A Small Place” by Jamaica Kincaid, the benefit of education through travel was meaningfully put into place.

The story talks about the observations and actions made by tourists in Antigua, a small island in the Caribbean. The author, an Antiguan, highlights chilling truths about life as an Antiguan and the perspective on tourists. Generally, it is pointed out that Antiguans don’t like tourists, for multiple reasons unbeknownst to tourists.

They [Antiguans] are too poor to escape to reality of their lives; and they are too poor to live properly in the place where they live, which is the very place you, the tourist, want to go – so when the natives see you, the tourist, they envy you, they envy your ability to leave your own banality and boredom, they envy your ability to turn their own banality and boredom into a source of pleasure for yourself.

What is interesting here is that Kincaid points out the (probable) lack of education tourists have for the country they so quickly fled to for vacation. They would rather bask in the sun and decide on what to eat for dinner, as the most difficult activity while on vacation. What would be oh so nice to see, is some education. The tourists instigating education – reading up on the country before arriving, asking the locals questions, seeking out the best buying decisions that support the local economy, and so forth. Tourists CAN be liked and appreciated as their business can benefit locals. But, if they simply jump on the tourist wagon and neglect getting to know more than the menu options, that is a disservice to themselves and the locals.

Education. Continue to educate yourself about the “small” things.

A Small Place, by Jamaica Kincaid (a rough 80 page read :))

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