Out Loud: Why I won’t be afraid

abroad perspective
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In this week’s “Out Loud,” Katie makes her case for broadening one’s understanding through international travel – in spite of fear.

BY
SENIOR REPORTER

It would be a gross understatement to say the political climate of the United States and the world has become increasingly turbulent in recent years. Our children and grandchildren will read of this era in their history books as one of uncertainty and great change.

It is this for these reasons that a large number of people I’ve talked to recently are refusing to travel outside of the United States. They fear sudden policy change and acts of terrorism or aggression.

I, however, reject this fear.

During the summer of 2012 I found myself in Scuol, a town of a little over 2,000 people nestled deep in the Swiss Alps. The town is engulfed in fields of wildflowers fading upward into snow capped peaks that would have made the von Trapp family swoon.

The people of the town were incredibly self- sufficient- they got the majority of their water in the summertime from a system of wells which were hooked up to a network of natural springs.

Since then I have developed an insatiable hunger to see the world outside of my own corner of suburbia, and despite having traveled often, the sensation of seeing a new place never changes.

Traveling to a new country is seeing a grey world dissipate into one pulsating with brilliant color.

It is jumping into a lake on a torrid August afternoon.

It is running as fast as you can or screaming at the top of your lungs — legs aching and throat torn, yet you feel invigorated all the same.

It restores the childlike sense of wonder that that many of us cannot remember possessing. Traveling is one of the few actions that dismisses preconceived bias and prejudice and replaces them with a guileless innocence.

Staying confined to a corner of the vast world perpetuates ignorance, breeds fear and plays directly into the hands of the perpetrators of the feared attacks, whose goal is to take away the fundamental bond we share as humans.

To be able to experience reality from the perspectives of people who have lived vastly different lives from us is precious. It allows us to appreciate differences while seeing that as humans, we all share the fundamental desires for happiness, health and safety for ourselves and our loved ones.

For various logistical reasons many people cannot trek to far off places, but for those of us who are able, the opportunity to travel that life has dropped into our laps is an opportunity that we dare not waste.

It is our job to use the cards we have been dealt to educate ourselves about our world to the best of our abilities.

Everytime I find myself in a new city I return with new perspectives, opinions and ideas. I return being able to view not just the place I visited, but my own home as well, with fresh eyes.

I decline to cling to outdated, one-sided views. I decline to succumb to evil. Above all, I decline to be scared.

For these reasons and countless others, I will travel.

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