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?
Which is San Antonio? Venice?