What I Learned From My First Trip to South America
As I sit here, thinking back on my first trip to Paraguay—my first trip to South America, I feel small. The world is SO BIG. And I don’t think that you really realize that until you’ve been to and experienced many different countries and cultures, really putting yourself out of your comfort zone.
Even though prior to this trip I’d been to several countries, this one made me realize a lot about myself. But the biggest takeaway was this:
I am so privileged.
We are SO privileged and most of us don’t even know it. We can’t even fathom not being able to buy all the things we need (like food and clothes) and a lot we don’t. We can’t imagine not having our own home, our own place to sleep. We can’t imagine not having choices, from food choice to career choice, because there are so many for us.
There’s a world outside of our own, outside of what we can possibly imagine.
And the funny thing is, is that we know this. We see pictures of far-off places that looks like a different time period completely. We see snapshots of war and tragedy. We see devastation and starvation on the news.
We know it, but we can scroll past it or switch it off.
We don’t have to deal with it.
Since it’s not immediately our problem or our concern, it’s so easy to turn it off. And we can’t fully grasp the realities of these situations and the ways in which other people live—simply because we don’t have to. Fortunately, we don’t have to face a large majority of the things that much of the world does have to face.
And when I say “we,” I’m speaking of people primarily in the U.S. and Western countries. This isn’t to say people aren’t well off and extraordinarily wealthy in other countries and third world countries, because that would be a lie. In Paraguay, I saw more Porsches and Audis than I’ve ever seen in one place. But, that is coupled with a lot of poverty and corruption.
But it’s a different place, a different way of living. Different circumstances, different languages, and different measures of success and happiness.
I’ve been changed. In the best possible way I think a person can change.
I feel that every time I go abroad—every new experience is a change in the mind; a new perspective—a shift in focus.
It’s a reminder to stay humble. Stay thankful. Appreciate all that I have. To love more. And to give more—not hold on to materials things. And to not take life so seriously.
I—we—are rich beyond measure. Don’t take that for granted. Learn to live with an open heart and an open home, because it’s not your possessions that matter in the end, it’s the kind of person you became and whose lives you touched along the way.