With only two weeks left in my new home, I’ve spent the entire morning wondering how I am going to fit in seeing all of my favorite spots before my departure. I don’t want to even start to think about how I need to pack up all of my belongings and leave, so I’m distracting myself by having every day packed with adventures both new and old to make sure that no stone is left unturned before I leave. On my last night, it only seems right to leave the way I started and return to the first pub I ever went to. But I have been taking walks every day to try to take pictures of everything that I can. These confusing and sometimes scary streets have become familiar, each turn containing a memory.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on my past 125 days in London and trying to compare myself at the beginning of this journey with who I am now at the end. Have I managed to take the best of both of my new homes and combine it into a single persona? As Slimbach remarks, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” (2010, pg. 54) My time in this bustling city has allowed me to encounter people from all types of life, from my professors to the people you sit next to in the tube. The global learning that I have encountered has allowed me to learn about London and its vast history, and also about myself. When I observe cultures different than my own, I am not only learning about those cultures but I can also analyze my own with a keen eye to ask myself questions such as “why do we really have an instinct to make a batch of 24 cookies rather than 9?”. (I think it’s to do with hospitality)
This new perspective on myself and my country caused me to reflect on the elements of my culture which with I agree and disagree. I’ve begun to see healthcare, economic, and foreign policy issues in a new light. Just last week on a long 10-hour bus ride back to London I went through the UK border control at the English Channel where a mother and her daughter were turned away after traveling the same journey as me. Why am I allowed to go through when they are turned away after doing nothing wrong? Being a global citizen means that I am obligated to be more informed about what is going on in the world and what effect it will have on the future. Though I am just an individual, my small contribution will always make a big impact on the world whether directly or indirectly.
The context of my global travel has helped me to shape the person I am today. Without the physical separation of myself from my home, I would not have the mind space to reflect on the actions I take automatically. Slimbach touches on this connection when he says, “Humans are specially graced with reflective consciousness and the capacity to choose among the possibilities of our nature. As such, we have the unique opportunity to connect an inner journey of self-discovery with an outer journey of world discovery.” (2010, pg. 51) The clues from the world around me spark ideas about my own philosophy and the way in which I live my life. This in turn evolves into a reflection of how each of my actions affects others. Like moving gears on a clock I’m starting to see that every turn I take makes the whole machine tick.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Kindle for Mac.