How do You Learn? On Education and Cross-Cultural Experiences

I have always valued education. Having grown up in a somewhat un-stereotypical setting of being homeschooled, I have always appreciated unfamiliar educational practices. My time in other countries has shown me that education need not take place solely in a classroom. I have found that I learn best when experiencing my surroundings.

I learn when I sit in a bus seat and reflectively and steadfastly watch the unfamiliar landscape pass by.

I learn when I sit in a car with a person who only speaks an unfamiliar language and I am forced to speak that tongue, no matter how difficult.

I learn when I fall asleep on the ground of a hut in a poverty stricken village.

I learn when I step inside a bomb shelter on an elementary school playground, overlaid  with cute paintings to overshadow the bleakness of the actual situation.

I learn when my tongue comes into contact with 20 different types of Brazilian fruit, and my nose smells the incense over the altar where Jesus was crucified, and when my ears hear a hundred Mexican children laughing amidst the dirt and filth of their situation.

Finally, I have learned that my heart does not belong to any one place. It belongs to a thousand different places. Some of these places I have deposited its piece, and countless others are still waiting for their piece to arrive. I am waiting to learn – not necessarily from professors or courses, but from people and stories. So what have my travels taught me about education? It has opened my eyes to a lifelong of learning from people who are not my own. And I cannot wait.

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