After the last four and a half months here in Heidelberg, Germany, I sit here on my favorite bench overlooking my favorite view, while contemplating this quote. In order to comprehend this proverb, I now pose the question to myself, “what is the purpose of studying abroad?” The answer to this very inquiry is what indicates whether we have reached this ‘world within.’ Slimbach’s ‘world within’ is the connectivity that exists amongst the global community. It is a realization that few travelers make, but that those that do will lead lives that will be forever more enriched. This world is actually a state of mind; one that is accessed by intentional travel and active listening. The last trip I went on was to the Greek island of Crete. It was during this trip that I discovered the wonders of what intentional or what I call, deliberate, travel. The purpose of this traveling to this destination, I told myself, was to this particular beach and also to taste this specific Cretan wine. Upon accomplishing these tasks, I felt a sense of fulfillment that I hadn’t know existed prior to that excursion. Although the purpose of this travel was simple, the achievement felt oddly special. It felt this way because I was finally not wandering.
Learning is just like deliberate travel; we must have a destination. Slimbach writes, “external experience may occupy most of our waking hours, but we ultimately live from the depths of our being – our intentions, ideas, and impulses.” (Slimbach, 53) Humans are the products of their experiences, but as Slimbach suggests, they are more the sum of their intentions, ideas, and impulses. I believe that the author unknowingly hit a major point in this sentence that speaks to many of the global problems he address in Becoming World Wise. There is not enough emphasis place on the intentions of individuals or communities. Take, for example, the idea of success. A boy grows up in a lower income household, and all he knows is that he wants more. As that boys becomes a man and becomes educated, his aim is not on something that can be measured. There is no ceiling or destination. This is how America has become lost in the global community. This is why America breeds materialism and entitlement. If that same boy were to have been taught to practice intentional travel, learning and living, then maybe his goal as a child would simply be to afford to put a meal on the table for his family at every meal. Maybe it would be to own a nice house, or even an expensive boat. The point is that if this boy has that specific attainable goal in mind, then he will be less likely to get lost on his way to success.
As the time grows near where I will be departing I am actually excited to say goodbye because I am looking forward to exploring the depths of the friendships I have made by putting space between us. We are going out to dinner to celebrate the times we’ve had and toast to new revelations and adventures. It feels like a finale of sorts, an event I will remember more the collection of events that prefaced it. As I prepare to leave this place, my emotions are pushing to take over the helm of my thoughts. I know this is healthy for me, because it is something I haven’t experienced it before. My cognition has never before been in the passenger seat, and it has somewhat made me car sick in a way. What is has given me is a new perspective on life.