Before reading chapter three of Simbach’s Becoming World Wise, I never considered there to be more than one type of “traveler.” Simbach mentions a “mindful traveler” versus a “carefree” traveler, yet I feel by separating the two, severely limits the traveler. For me, I’ve always viewed a traveler as someone who is both carefree and mindful. Carefree in the sense they are driven by curiosity, the sense of freedom and the desire to learn about the world around them. Mindful in the sense that there is always the underlying concern of security which causes us to adapt to the world around us, as a means to not draw too much attention or negativity. Also, mindful in the sense that, typically those who are drawn to a place by its beauty, will do their very best to protect and admire that beauty for as long as they can.
For-instance, I consider myself to be both a mindful and carefree traveler. Carefree in the sense that I am driven by my curiosity and desire to explore aimlessly. While in Ireland, I make very few plans and go where the wind takes me, wandering all throughout the land, within my means. Although I am not a fan of mapping out every step of everyday, I am more than aware that you cannot go some where blind; blind to their history, their culture and their land, which is why before traveling to Ireland I made sure to do as much research as I could on their: recent and most vital history, their economic state, their government, their laws and political opinions, the geography of where each county is and what they are known for, religious beliefs, as well as a few common phrases in irish. At this point, I honestly thought I met the definition of a “mindful traveler,” “To be a mindful traveler is to approach our field settings with a level of sensitivity and curiosity that raises our conscious awareness of how we affect the social and natural environment” (simbach, 74). Yet as I read further into Simbach’s the journey toward mindfulness, there was one topic I didn’t research, one that I actually found to be the biggest adjustment for me, “Ecological Mindfulness.”
I always considered myself to be naturally ecologically mindful because I take the effort to recycle, pick up trash when I see it, and walk as much as I can instead of use the car, yet coming to Ireland only showed me how mindless I really am when it comes to conservation. Everything you use in Ireland is monitored and regulated, the water, the electricity, the air, the trash. I come to find that maintaining my apartment and my carbon footprint is just as much work as caring for a pet. On a daily basis I have to make sure to turn off all the outlet switches immediately after use, I cannot use heat for more than an hour at a time, all trash must be broken into: waste, recycling, glass, and compost. Hot water is limited to only four hours a day, and because of the wet climate, you must air out your apartment at least an hour everyday as to limit the amount of mold growth. No amount of research could have prepared me for these daily hassles, yet they are hassles I gladly accept and practice because you truly see the difference in the land and lifestyle as a result of this conservation. Irish cities are by far some of the cleanest cities I have ever seen, while the rural lands are by far the greenest and most beautiful lands I have ever laid eyes upon, and when you walk along the beach you do not see a shore of garbage and murky water like you do in New Jersey. These simple tasks also motivate me and others to go the extra step to conserve and benefit the country as much as we can. I notice people tend to bike more and use buses instead of all individually take their own cars. I also notice that apart from ecological mindfulness, Ireland emphasises cultural and economical mindfulness, in which it is always encouraged and expected to support the local market over larger chain stores, as well as buy as many irish made products as you can when shopping.
It is through this mindful journey that I have taken while in Ireland that I realize it is essential to be a “mindful traveler” to ensure the success of the global community. Before coming to Ireland, in our QU301 workshop, we established that a “global community” is defined as a group of nations and cultures coming together, working towards and for the same human rights and goals. This cannot be achieved, if you do not have a traveler who is willing to learn the rights and goals of each nation/culture and bring them together.
I chose these pictures because these are the moments where I’ve seen Ireland in it’s raw natural beauty. To see these images and then to see some areas that are infested with litter, is heart-wrenching. Ever since we were little we were told that there is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. To me, Ireland is that pot of gold, and it needs to be protected and I will do everything in my power to make it better than when I got here and to bring my mindfulness with me to my own home, as a means to save its beauty as well.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.