Travel Log 15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” by Mitchell McGowan. Quincy, Massachusetts.

Going from the sunny Gold Coast to the cold and dreary Boston weather was difficult at first, but I feel like I am slowly becoming more accustomed to my native community. In the beginning, it was the little things that challenged or surprised me. For example, it took a little bit to get used to driving on the right side of the road again. While it was not necessarily a challenge, these changes were different and shook up the way I functioned. Another example would be the types of food available. When I left for Australia, I had to adapt to the loss of brands and types of foods I was so accustomed to in Boston. Now that I am back home, it is almost overwhelming that I get my old foods back, while feeling sad that I lost my Australian foods. Even dressing for the weather is different. I became so accustomed to having around ten days of rain and overwhelming heat through my entire time abroad. Coming back home, I have to get back into the habit of dressing better for cold or rainy weather.

When I sat down with my family and read them my Reincorporation Letter, I felt as though they did not understand it at first. While they knew that I was returning as a changed individual, it didn’t really make sense as I was saying it to them. To make it easier for them to understand, I used the idea of a car to explain reincorporation. I said that the car (the community) was made up of several parts (the individual members). Pieces can be taken out of the car and upgraded to help increase the performance of the car, but they still perform the same function. I basically told my family that I was the same person, I was just a better and more experienced version compared to the person I was before the study abroad experience. I feel like once I explained it to my family, and they understood the process I was going through, they accepted and affirmed my growth. To me, it really helped that my family accepted the changes I made during my time abroad. Hearing them say that I seem more mature and older tells me that I successfully went through a rite of passage.

The “gems” that come from study abroad are the new experiences and ideas gained throughout travels. To me, it is easy to keep the gems, because it is something we have learned to love while abroad. If the gem is a new type of food we liked in our host country, then we may find a place to get it here in America. If it is an event or sporting event, we may look for it in our own neighborhoods. I think that in order to keep the gems we have found, we just need to continue enjoying what we have learned.

On the other hand, we have bad habits that need to be changed or addressed. Slimbach compares it to a stream that always finds the quickest path for water to flow. We sub-consciously set routines for ourselves that once we begin, it becomes hard to quit. I believe and agree with Slimbach when he writes, “To change a deep-rooted habit, you must take steps to divert the steam- that is, to subconsciously change the habit.” (Slimbach LOC 4120). I follow this method whenever I try to change something in my life. For example, I wanted to improve my cardio health, so I would make sure that I had to run every night. I became so accustomed to running every night; I could not sleep if I didn’t do my exercise. While I do not believe I have any habits to change, if any arise I know I can combat it.

A quote that represents how I feel right now comes from James Cash Penney. He said, “Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” I relate to this because I felt as though my growth through study abroad experience had been through group effort. I relied heavily on my friends in the liminal stage to help me learn, and I am now relying on my friends and family during reintroduction to my native community. My growth is because I was helped along the way.


Works Cited:


Slimbach, R. (2010). Becoming world wise: a guide to global learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC. LOC 4120



Travel Log 14: “Global Connections & Rites of Seperation” By Mitchell McGowan. Gold Coast, Australia

“If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into the world within.” (Slimbach p.54).

I cannot agree more with Slimbach regarding global learning. I feel as though we need to accept the reasons we are here studying abroad. Acknowledging the opportunity in front of us and embracing the idea that we are living and learning in a new environment, allows us to see the various pathways that can teach us more about the world around us. If one were to be narrow minded, that would be shutting the door on multiple doorways that may help with individual growth. The part of Chapter Two that stuck with me was talking about personal identity exploration. Slimbach writes, “Leaving home for distinct locations only intensifies this identity exploration.” (Slimbach LOC 840). This part stuck out to me the most because I have recently noticed how I am individually different compared to the person I used to be. While I am back in the United States, I feel like I am heavily influenced by my friends and family. While I am in Australia, I feel like I am on my own. Therefore, I feel as though the decisions I make are my own, which has in many cases led me to new opportunities and experiences.

These new experiences have shown me other aspects of life that, as Americans, we may not find as valuable to Australians. I feel like the biggest skills needed to become a global citizen would just be open-minded and understanding. We often see situations play out here and we often look at Australians with confusion. We do not understand other people until we walk in their shoes. An example would be when we first came to Australia and sat in our orientation to learn about Australian culture. Our program employees explained to us how they were closely watching the elections in the United States, and were nervous how the change in politics would change Australian politics. I had not realized that the whole world basically changes because of the actions of the United States. It showed me that, on both a small and large scale, our actions have consequences that impact people all over the world. I plan to go home, and continue to be more conscious of how my actions impact the people around me.

As for my friends here in Australia, I have worked closely with a group partner and friend through all of my classes. I really think it would be cool to go to a local restaurant and have some Australian style of cooking before I go back, and talk with my friend about the places I have been in Australia. I want to also plan to hopefully return to Australia, or have them visit me in Boston.

As I get closer to returning to the United States, I am both excited and sad at the same time. I really do love Australia because the people and land are so beautiful. I know that when I return home, I will miss the Australian beach lifestyle. On the other hand, I really miss my family and friends back home, and I feel as though I have been gone for so long that I don’t really remember what life was like back in Massachusetts. I am ready to return back home as a new and improved version of myself. I know that leaving Australia will be a sad time; I know that sometime in my future, I will come back to the Gold Coast.

A quote that I think would explain how I feel right now comes from F. Scott Fitzgerald. He said, “It’s a funny thing, coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.” I know when I return back home, everything will be the same. My neighborhood will be the same, my room will be untouched. The only difference is that I am not the same person. The important thing is, while the environment hasn’t changed, I have returned a better person.


Work Cited:

Slimbach, R. (2010). Becoming world wise: a guide to global learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC. LOC840

Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Storytelling” By Mitchell McGowan. Gold Coast, Australia.

When looking at personal growth and development throughout our aging stages, I believe that it is important to have rituals that signify our ascension into a new social level. I think that as countries like America, England, and Australia do not have specific traditions in their culture.

Personally, I cannot think of any ritual that we as Americans do that signify a change in social standings besides the high school and college graduation. While they signify more maturation, they are not necessarily unique to a group or community. Another aspect that I think signifies rituals to me would be religion. While I cannot speak for other religions, I can speak about growing up Catholic. Growing up, we go through rituals that signify how old and mature we are getting. As children, we have Baptism and our First Communion. We then go through Confirmation, which marks us as adults. The events and rituals brings us into the Catholic community, and as we evolve as people we go through more rituals to show how we are becoming more important to our given community. We get the feeling that we belong to the community, and the ritual is the way our friends and family acknowledge us. In Deeply into the Bone by Ronald Grimes, he expresses this sentiment by writing, “The main reason for having rites of passages is to enable mindful attendance to events that may otherwise pass us by.” (Grimes 2000).

I believe that the lack of rituals could be detrimental to the growth of a community. If someone does not go through a ritual, their growth or accomplishments are diminished and go unrecognized. If a collection of people do not recognize another person’s accomplishment, they all act as individuals rather than a unified community. When we acknowledge and support each other, we encourage and grow as a community.

The digital story is an important part in sharing my study abroad experience with members of my community back home. It is a way to explain the experiences I have had here, with the assistance of pictures. Pictures are vital to it all, because it allows the listener to see what is being discussed, and allows them to place themselves there and experience it.

The first element of a rite of passage that I believe is important is to add adversity or a challenge. I personally believe that the best way to grow from a child to an adult is to learn how to handle the challenges in front of us. One does not truly learn how to overcome obstacles and become mature if there is not some kind of problem or force to overcome. The second element is having time to be alone to reflect on newfound values and beliefs. I think that while we are abroad, we will be exposed to multiple beliefs that vary from what we would normally think. While we should have an open mind to the new aspects of our lives, we should also be able to think for ourselves and determine if the belief is beneficial for our growth. Having multiple people force or influence your opinions on things does not make it your own belief, it just makes you a collection of another person’s thoughts. The final and most important element of rite of passages is the celebration of status. It is important for the community to recognize the growth or change in the participant of the rite of passage. If the actions go un-acknowledged, then the participant may revert and the passage may be wasted.

Personally, my favorite digital story that I personally connected with was Caitlin Murphy’s story on the Netherlands. I really liked how she used riding a bike to help explain her growing process while abroad. I really related to it because I planned on making my digital story on surfing. I feel as though I can better communicate the things I have learned abroad by using surfing as my medium, which would help my community feel like they were part of my experience.


Works Cited:

Grimes, R. L. (n.d.). Deeply into the bone: re-inventing rites of passage. Berkeley: University of California Press.





Travel Log 12: “Service”. By Mitchell McGowan. Gold Coast, Australia

The organization and event I attended was run by BeachCare, who work to clean up the Gold Coast’s many beaches. The idea behind the program was to teach the locals about the ocean actively clean pollution from the beach. They clean rubbish, remove weeds, and help establish safe paths for boardwalks along the sand dunes.

The beaches are so important to the Gold Coast because of the cultural and economic value they carry. Citizens of the Gold Coast live such healthy lifestyles, where they typically go from work or school straight to the beach. People of all lifestyles flock to the beach, doing anything that varies from tanning to parasailing. Watersports, such as surfing, are a religion here in the Gold Coast. For these people to “pray”, they need to keep their beach clean so that they can enjoy it. They also need the beach because it brings in tourism. There are thousands of tourists flying into the Gold Coast everyday just to visit the beaches. If there is trash washing up on the shores, the locals will not be able to surf and tourists will find somewhere else to go on a vacation.

Due to my proximity to the beach, I walked down there one morning and watched a group gather to clean Broadbeach. They gathered on the beach among a group of people tanning, separating themselves and spreading out to different parts of the beaches. Men and women were wading through the water, picking out small pieces of bags. There were others climbing through the smaller dunes, picking up beer cans and cases and throwing them in trash bags. There was a small group of people working, but they cleaned the entire beach in a short span of time. It reminds me of the quote by Margaret Mead. She said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” It shows that as long as people are determined, numbers will not matter. Thought and effort can break down any barrier.

While it seemed like it was such a little event, it showed how much the people cared about their local community. We often think that as individuals, our work will do nothing. It reminded me of Slimbach’s writing; when he talked about foreign students volunteer. He writes, “At the same time, as foreign students and project volunteers there are ways that we can support a process of positive change, especially at the grassroots level.” (Slimbach LOC 699). As a group, people can accomplish large goals. It was surreal to see the work of 10 plus people keep a place beautiful.

One of the biggest things I have acknowledged from the Australians, is that they are very environmentally friendly, and are always working to help save energy and reduce pollution. They take their recycling very seriously and have reduced the amount of electric outlets to prevent energy usage. I have also spoken to Australians, who have suggested that people eat Kangaroo meat because it is more environmentally sustainable. They believe that importing beef uses more fuel than just eating kangaroo, who overpopulate and hurt local crops.

It is vastly different from what we see back in the United States. Back home, we barely take recycling seriously, often throwing trash anywhere we can. It is also crazy to see the beaches here, and compare them to what we have back home. In Boston, the beaches can have plastics washing up. Here, the beaches are spotless. We take pride in our “dirty water” back in Boston, when we would really have much more pride clean beaches like the Gold Coast.

The picture below was taken as I was walking over to the meeting point. It may be hard to see all of the people, but some of them are grouping up to move to various parts of the beach. This is in the Broadbeach neighborhood.




Work Cited:

Slimbach, R. (2010). Becoming world wise: a guide to global learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC. LOC699

Travel Log 11: “Holding Up Half the Sky” by Mitchell McGowan. Gold Coast, Australia.

The book turned documentary Half the Sky is an expose that shows the challenges women around the world face on a daily basis. The authors, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, traveled around the world to witness the awful conditions women live with. It is extremely powerful because it shows the audience a world that most have never seen before, and encourages them to seek out a change throughout the world.

To me, the piece that best shows the overall message is the name. According to the authors, the name comes from a famous saying from Former Chairman of the Communist Part Mao Zedong. He said, “Women hold up half the sky.” (Cooke Web). This means that women are equal to men, and that neither side is capable of holding up the sky alone. With teamwork and an equal amount of effort, men and women are capable of anything. There are places in the world where women have absolutely no rights due to the culture around them. It leaves the men in the society to “hold up” the sky, which means it can come crashing down even more quickly. The reality of it all is that men need women to help carry the burden that is the sky, and vice versa. To alienate one group away and attempt to carry the burden by oneself would just cause destruction.

The story that stuck with me the most was Meena’s, who was a twelve-year-old I sex slave in India. The documentary showed that many girls are kidnapped at a young age, or are sold into slavery by their parents due to their poor backgrounds. The girls are often given drugs in order to get them addicted and stuck in a continuous cycle. Due to the nature of the business, these young girls are exposed to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. It was sad to watch because you could see that these children did not want to be living the lives they currently have. Instead of enjoying their childhood, they are trapped in a brothel with their lives wasting away. There were attempts to help these people, like social workers going undercover to assist sex workers, but for the most part they have failed. They need these jobs to support their families, and for some, it is the only life they know. The worst part was the look the women carried on their faces during the interviews. Their faces said that they knew how bad their lives, but there was nothing they could do to change anything. I think that it shows that as a global community, we have failed our neighbors. To see that some people are oppressed and have no hope of being saved, it shows that we still have a lot of changes we need to make in order to ensure everyone has their naturally given rights.

I think the biggest thing my area of study (public relations) would be to try and effect social change. An example discussed in the documentary was the idea of using soap opera like television show with strong female figures. This would begin to reinforce the idea that women are strong and independent. Through my field of study, I have seen non-profit organizations working to help raise awareness for specific causes. For example, we have done work through Quinnipiac clubs and the United Nations to help combat malaria across the world. I believe that people in the public relations profession could take the information gained from documentaries and books like Half the Sky and efficiently spread it to the general public. It may not be directly helping the women in tough situations, but it may help inform more people in countries where we do not have these problems, and gain assistance towards the cause.



Works Cited:

Cooke, K. (2013, March 07). Holding up half the sky. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from

Travel Log 10:“Encountering Globalization” By Mitchell McGowan. Gold Coast, Australia

Throughout my time here on the Gold Coast, I have felt what I think is globalization growing among the community. While it feels like it is in its early stage, I believe the Gold Coast is becoming more globalized because of one upcoming event, the Commonwealth Games. The Commonwealth Games are an Olympic-like tournament for the 52 countries who made up the Commonwealth of Nations (regions of the former British Empire).

The concept of events like the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games remind me of something Kevin Robins wrote book “Encountering Globalization”. He writes, “ … argues for the recognition of ‘ a sense of place which is extraverted, which includes a consciousness of its link with the wider world, which integrates in a positive way the global and the local’. A ‘global sense of place’ involves openness to global dynamics and also an acceptance of cultural diversity and the possibilities of cultural encounter within.” (Robins 244). Like many host countries in large events like this, the reason for hosting such a large event is to share the city or nations culture with the rest of the world. As Robbins writes, you are sharing all of your culture, while allowing people and cultures from other regions of the world come and interact with your people.

I have been able to see the changes required throughout the Gold Coast to help facilitate the events first hand. While studying at Bond University, I am enrolled in all Sports Management classes. Due to the school’s connection to the Gold Coast, and the Gold Coast requiring help to run the Commonwealth Games, our classes have been able to see what is going into this massive cultural event. First, we had a guest speaker come in and discuss the impact the games will have on the city, and how they are using previous Olympic games to help prepare the Gold Coast for the impending changes. She also discussed how events like cycling have designed the courses so that the cameras will show all of the Gold Coast’s various neighborhoods and regions. This is designed to show the world why the people living in the Gold Coast are so proud of their home.

Secondly, we were brought to Surf Australia’s headquarters, where we got a tour of their high performance facilities. This building showed us where some of the greatest athletes from around the world are brought to hone their skills for upcoming competition. It was cool to see athletes from around the world come to train with the worldwide masters of surfing, embracing their culture and the way the Australians treat the ocean. The city is preparing for the event too, by putting up sculptures and other cool pieces that show off Australian culture, like painted koala statues. The coolest pieces are large surfboards with timers, that countdown to the start of the games.

Seeing this has changed my definition of a global community. We defined it as, “All people around the world living by and fighting for similar social values and basic rights.” I think that the definition we have is too specific. We limit it to fighting for the basic rights of human beings, by why can’t it be more positive or more general. I would say fans of rugby from across the world coming together to watch a match in the Gold Coast or on television would be a global community. As long as there is a passion and people along the world are embracing it, there will be a global community for that. I think a better definition would be : “People all over the world coming together to support a common goal or interest.”







Works Cited:

Robbins, K (n.d.).Encountering Globalization










Travel Log 9: “Exploring Stereotypes” by Mitchell McGowan. Melbourne, Australia.

During my time studying abroad, I have found that stereotypes follow us like our shadows. No matter your appearance or personality, these rumors somehow stick, and become part of ones identity. While these exaggerations can be harmful or offensive to students, IES Abroad explains that, “There can be misconceptions about people but most have a layer of truth behind them.” (Baldwin Web). Looking at the stereotypes that portray Americans and Australians, I am confident these rumors come from media outlets.

The most common one we face as Americans is that we are “fat and throw extreme Hollywood parties.” Australians are always making jokes about our diets and how all Americans do is party. These stereotypes come from Hollywood, where movies like Project X heavily exaggerate American parties. However, I do not think study abroad students help repair the damaged image we have among the rest of the world. A majority of kids studying abroad to treat it as one big party, focusing on what they are going to do on a Friday night rather than the other aspects of the study abroad environment around them. Kids go out and spend tons of money on huge drinks that are extremely unhealthy and costly. When Australians constantly see young Americans indulging in these excessive meals and out of control drinks, they believe the “fat and heavy partiers” stereotype they’ve seen on television.

I do think that, in a way, these stereotypes do fill a void in worldly knowledge. Because it may not be a common place to know how people eat and socially interact in foreign countries, people often turn to film and television in order to learn the aspects of another culture they may not be able to find themselves. If an Australian were watching American media, then it would completely make sense why they would generalize how Americans act.

This also works conversely, with Americans making assumptions and believing stereotypes about Australians. The most common one is that all Australians are very fit and surf all day long. While a majority of Australians are generally in very good shape, and an even larger number surfs, Australia is still struggling with obesity. The government here is actually trying to put legislation in place that would help fight childhood obesity in schools, just like the United States.

I have learned that while stereotypes can apply to a large population, it can still hurt other members of the community who do not fit that stereotype. It gives them a reputation that doesn’t fit their character, which could stunt or hinder their growth. I believe that the study abroad environment is the best place to learn to look past stereotypes. Slimbach writes, “ As educational travelers, our first and perhaps most challenging task us to allow our host culture to become a place where we can struggle against the fictional self that is revealed through feelings of ignorance, inadequacy, and childlike dependence.” (Slimbach LOC 1094). I interpret that as we face these stereotypes head on in an unfamiliar environment. In the United States, we know the truth about what is around us, but that truth can almost blend a group of individuals into one. When we reach our host countries, we are an individual facing the stereotypes head on, tearing away at the fictional beings we were back home and creating an individual who does not have a “childlike dependence” like we would back home to our molded groups. After we face the ignorance and realize our self worth, we are able to come home to the United States as mature adults and individual thinkers who do not just fit the mold of a basic American.

The picture below is from a bar that about 90 percent of my program has visited. They specialize in extravagant drinks and massive meals that draw in tourists. I believe that being in places like this perpetuate the American IMG_1534.PNG

Works Cited:

Baldwin, K. (2014, December 16). The Power of Stereotypes. Retrieved March 01, 2017, from

Slimbach, R. (2010). Becoming world wise: a guide to global learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC. LOC1094

Travel Log 8: “Global Responsibility” Part 2 by Mitchell McGowan. Gold Coast, Australia.

The reputation of study abroad students has vastly changed over the last few years. Students look at study abroad as a method of traveling and partying in a new place. The experience has changed from an alternate way of learning to finding a place to take the best picture for Instagram.

I have seen multiple examples of this wasteful mentality while studying here in the Gold Coast. There are students here who just skip classes and party every night. While I understand that it is their right to do whatever they want with this opportunity, I cannot help but feel like it is a waste.

To me, this study abroad experience is all about experiencing things we may not find back home, and using those experiences to help facilitate a growth into adulthood. We are meant to explore the world around us, and meet new people that will inspire us to change the world around us. Slimbach explains that students should be exploring the world, rather than spending our time in a classroom or a bar. He writes, “More and more are venturing off the beaten path of study-abroad-as-usual with a passion to discover meaning in their life by helping to mend the brokenness of the world.” (Slimbach Loc 568).

I believe that this mentality has arisen among study abroad students because we have been blessed with an opportunity most people do not get. We share pictures on social media and tell our friends how great it is to be abroad, which is something that we should do. The problem is when that is the main focus of our semesters. Since arriving here, I have recognized how lucky am I for having parents that sacrificed a tremendous amount to send me to Australia. I know that my parents would love Australia, but they may not ever get a chance to see this country. I feel as though I owe it to them to explore this country and learn everything I can, so that when I return I can share a piece with them. Non-stop partying like some of my fellow students, to me, would just be so disrespectful to said sacrifices made on my behalf.

I think the best way to change that mentality of students is to just take a step back and realize we have once in a lifetime opportunities. I think we should go out and travel and work with the local people and give back to the people who sharing their culture and traditions with us. It is a shame that we come over and have a reputation as kids who come and trash the neighborhood only to leave in a few months. We need to recognize that not everyone gets the opportunity we have, so if someone is going to squander it, they might as well stay home.




Works Cited:

Slimbach, R. (2010). Becoming world wise: a guide to global learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC. LOC568

Travel Log 7: “Global Responsibilities” Part 1 by Mitchell McGowan. Gold Coast, Australia.



The above cartoon was used to represent how the world reacted to the atrocious genocide in the small African country of Rwanda. Close to 800,000 Tutsis were killed by the Hutu militia, leaving millions more displaced in neighboring countries. During the entire conflict, most of the Western powers kept away, allowing the genocide to continue. It wasn’t until media attention required the super powers to step in and try to maintain peace. By that time, the Tutsi rebels had fought back and almost completely re-captured the country.

The illustrator of the cartoon wanted to show how the foreign super powers kept a distance from the entire situation even though they knew that innocent people were dying. The woman is dying of starvation and dehydration, causing her to shrivel up on the ground like Rwanda was. The country at the time was scarce on resources, causing people who were not murdered to die of disease and famine. As she reaches out for help, the powers brush it off as she is waving to them. To add insult to injury, the nations just wave back, which was the artists way of saying the powers knew what was happening in Rwanda, and they chose to just wave back and refuse to help.

To me, there were two massive violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The first being a violation to Article 1, which says, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in spirit of brotherhood.” (UN Web). While the document says that all people should be treated equal, the genocide clearly showed the world that the super powers viewed the Tutsi people as lesser beings. They idly sat by and watched over half a million people be executed. The world vowed that events like the Holocaust would never happen again, yet years later we have situations in places like Rwanda and Syria, where people are begging for help and foreign nations refuse.

Another violation was made on Article 3, which states, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.” (UN Web). It is easy for a country to help provide another country that needs help. These people had a basic right to live, yet they died because foreign nations couldn’t send food or medicine. What does it say about us that we complain we do not have rights, yet we do not stand up for the people who are not even provided food, water or shelter? The article that may be the most important and most basic idea to follow was simply neglected by so many people.

Ultimately, it was on the Western foreign powers and the United Nations to help protect and save the refugees in Rwanda. They wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and they abandoned it when it did not pertain to them or there was nothing to gain. While it is obvious that genocide is a crime against humanity, there are still countless numbers of innocent people being killed in the Middle East, with little to no intervention from the Western world. Refugees are fleeing at alarming rates, but no one is coming to their aid. How many times do are we going to ignore the people who are facing constant danger, until we finally step in and help?

Works Cited:

Rani, Y. (n.d.). Political Cartoon. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from

Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2017, from

Travel Log #6 “The Mindful Traveler” by Mitchell McGowan. Gold Coast, Australia

While reading Slimbach’s chapter “A Mindful Traveler”, I was able to decipher and separate a mindful traveler from a tourist and a drifter.

The mindful traveler is someone who takes the social, economic, and ecological factors of the rest of the world. The tourist is someone who just goes to the destination to enjoy himself or herself. They only really care about themselves, and their own part of the world. Slimbach describes the difference while talking about Rabindranath Tagore, who was a famous traveler and poet. Slimbach quotes him and explains it by saying “ ‘ The complete man must never be sacrificed to the patriotic man, or even to the mere moral man,’ he warned in a letter from New York to a friend (Tagore, 1996). For Tagore, patriotism and nationalism were but passing phases in the evolution of the human community. He believed that in time, and with the increase of cultural exchange, the cosmopolitan ideal would be reached. That humanity is too good for narrow interests and exclusive loyalties.” (Slimbach LOC 1394). They are saying that people today care too much about their country, and how they influence the culture surrounding said country. We need to think bigger, and ask ourselves how we can affect the entire planet. For some reason, we as a species separate ourselves and categorize ourselves into exclusive groups. This grouping is regressive towards the social and cultural change some parts of the world need. This is why being a mindful traveler is an important part of traveling the world. We need to be aware of the problems and changes people need in various in parts of world, so that we can all work together to improve the planet. I have seen examples of this while traveling through Australia. While staying in a hostel in Byron Bay, I met a bunch of European backpackers who were traveling the country, all while trying to clean up some of Australia’s beaches. They believed that they needed to take care of the country that they were enjoying, in order to pay it back in their own way. I think that the definition we created for the global community fits the idea of the mindful traveler. We all have to join together and fight to make the changes we want to see in the world.

I do believe that being a mindful traveler is the most important part of being a participant in the global community. A big factor that has changed me here is the way Australians try to protect their environment. After going to the Great Barrier Reef and seeing how the Reef is dying, I want to do my part to help ensure that other students like myself have the opportunity to see one of the greatest natural wonders in the world. To do my part, I have decided to cut down on my energy consumption by using a lot less appliances and reducing the amount of water I use. Another changed I made was drinking water from a metal refillable bottle rather than using multiple plastic bottles that will hurt the environment. While it seems like a small change, I feel as though I am part of a community that is working to keep Australia’s beautiful scenery healthy for future students.

The picture that I included is a picture of my “hostel” in Byron Bay. The place I stayed in was actually just a campground, where we stayed in private tents rather than crowded rooms. There was no wasted energy out there; it was just living outside on the coast of Australia. While I know it was reducing energy consumption, I also felt like it was a cool experience for me as well. Being taken out of the modern world we live in, and just laying under the clear sky on the beach was just surreal. Being able to experience that was well worth not being able to use my phone.



Works Cited:

Slimbach, R. (2010). Becoming world wise: a guide to global learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC. LOC 1394