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Posts tagged ‘traveling’

Similar Places, Different People

I haven’t been to more than a handful of countries.  I’m only fluent in one language. My passport expired with an admittedly pitiful number of stamps.

But I have traveled enough to notice a lot of similarities shared by places halfway around the world. For example one of the first thoughts that popped up when I stepped out of the airport in Israel was “Wow, this looks surprisingly like California.” And in Austin, a city where you can find so many varieties of trees not normally together in one place – cacti, palms, maples, and firs, I often find myself coming around a corner and thinking “Huh, this is a lot like what _____ must look like”

The theory I’m purporting and the question I’m about to pose is that if similarly looking and feeling places around the world exist regardless of the nation or community neighborhood they exist in, then shouldn’t you be able to find community anywhere and define it by the people you’re with? Essentially, if a community can be defined geographically by location and if unique culture is what makes each community special, then the people themselves are what makes community tick.

Obviously we need people to create the culture and settle a community in a location, and while in many cases those communities become very similar in look and feel, it’s only the people there that can truly differentiate and create a sense of community you feel connected to and want to go back to. Imagine how being in a familiar place would be a completely different experience if it looked exactly the same but was populated by a totally different population of people.

Don’t buy it? Here are a few photos from very different places.  While they might look similar, these are places we wouldn’t naturally associate being comparable at all because the image in our heads – based on the types of people and subsequent cultures in each area – make each place seem much less alike than they might otherwise be if not for the people.  Point in case, can you tell me where these below photos were taken?

Which one was taken in Israel and which is from California?

israel california palm building blue skyisrael california palm building blue sky






Which is San Antonio?  Venice?

venice san antonio canal side restaurant dining colorful

venice san antonio canal side restaurant dining colorful

What Social Media Means to Individuals in a Global Community

badajoz sunset vista view Spain fortressA year ago I was sitting on a Spanish fortress with four friends. One was Italian, another Spanish, one Turkish and the last was from Florida. As we sat there, sharing a bottle of wine and watching the sun set over the Spanish frontier city of Badajoz, it occurred to me that this moment would be one that I treasured for the rest of my life.

I learned a lot from those friends. In fact, they and many of my other friends taught me a great deal about myself and the world around me. Friends, family members, teachers and co-workers have a knack for doing that. Our values, tastes in music, film, food, fashion, lifestyle and even our speech patterns largely stem from those who we most identify with. We piece our own personalities and tastes together based on things that these people share with us and, even if we don’t mean to, we tend to rub off on them as well.

A friend might play a song for us that forever alters our taste in music. We might hear someone use a phrase in that song that we appreciate and add to our vocabulary. Someone you know might post photos from an exotic destination that will give you the urge to go there. You might post a video that exposes another friend to something they may eventually pursue passionately.

The lesson in all of this is that everyone learns from and is shaped by the world around them. With the social networks that we’ve embraced so far, our circles of influence have expanded, but not nearly as much as they could.

As members of a global community we are the first generation that has the opportunity to learn from a much, much wider sphere of influence that has extended to include…well, the whole world.

We are compelled by the new and different. This is a fact of life that is and has been true for thousands of years. Evolution, whether it was the evolution of a species, a product or a cultural value, has always embodied the importance of the new. It provided us with new answers to old problems, new perspectives, new ways of life. Imagine if our world had never embraced the new. We wouldn’t have gotten very far as a species if we never took chances and tried something different.

This is the first time in the history of our planet when we can learn from and share our own passions with people on the other side of the world. We are no longer constrained by the immediate. Instead, our spheres of influence have become limitless. We now have access to every musical genre in the world. We can see photos of far away places. We can discover who we are and who we want to be.

The friends I shared wine with on that castle wall taught me so much about life, friendship, hospitality, style and personal philosophy. I can’t wait to see what I can learn from the rest of the world.

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