Travel Log 6 “The Mindful Traveler” By: Stephen Sharo Dunedin, NZ

The view from Mount Cargill, the highest point in Dunedin.

The view from Mount Cargill, the highest point in Dunedin.

The mindful traveler carries much more weight in the community compared to the carefree drifter or mass tourist. The carefree drifter and the mass tourist are in the community to see sights rather than experience the culture of the host country. Slimbach summarizes it best when he states, “This intentional awareness finds its ground and inspiration in a “story” that clarifies our motivations and allows higher purposes to guide our attempt to grow in worldly wisdom while enriching the lives of others,” (Slimbach, Kindle location 1450). The mindful traveler has more responsibility to the community, the host country, and the environment compared to a mass tourist or a carefree drifter.

In my experience so far in Dunedin I feel as though I have experienced both the carefree drifter and the mass tourist. Several times a day a tour bus drops about twenty people off at the entrance to the campus. These people simply take pictures for a couple minutes and then hop back on the bus and to travel to another spot. These people are not immersing themselves into the New Zealand culture but are rather simply observing what’s going on around them.

According to our definition of the global community which states, “A shared living space of interdependent individuals endowed with universal human rights, while choosing to act upon them embracing differences and working towards common goals,” the mindful traveler is very much a part of the global community. The mindful traveler has responsibilities and a higher purpose within the community itself. Whereas the mass tourist or the carefree drifter simply exist in the community and do not contribute to it. I think that our definition can be tweaked slightly in order to address some other points. I think that a reference to working towards the improvement of the community. I feel that Dunedin is a great working example of our definition. Dunedin is a place where differences are truly embraced. The university and the city are constituted of an eclectic mix of people from all around the world. For example the majority of the teachers at the University are not native to New Zealand. Moreover the school embraces various cultures by holding events such as the international food festival which represented about 20 different countries and were all run by students who attended the university. I think that the biggest action Dunedin has taken to demonstrate its open mindedness is its decision to take in thousands of Syrian refugees. Dunedin was picked out of all New Zealand cities to host the vast majority of the refugees fleeing to New Zealand.

I do think that mindful travel is a key characteristic of intentional participants of the global community. While I am traveling throughout New Zealand I plan on incorporating mindful travel into my trips in multiple ways. First, I consistently ask questions about the culture of the Kiwis. I want to know the reasons behind why people and society acts in a certain way. I continue to ask the questions that start with why and how because I think that is how I will get the most out of my study abroad experience. Secondly, I plan on discovering the meaning behind the sights I visit. For example, in Maori culture some mountains are sacred because they believe that’s where their loved ones go after death to move on to the spiritual world. I want to get the knowledge and meaning behind the sights that I am seeing. Lastly, I want to give back to the people who live here. Even small tasks such as ensuring someone gets home safely will allow me to become a part of the global community.

There are still some challenges to mindful travel. Traveling can already be exhausting and being mindful is tiring both mentally and physically. A person must fight through their fatigue in order to truly become immersed in the host country’s culture.

 

Slimbach, Richard (2012-03-12). Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning (Kindle Locations 1450-1451). Stylus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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