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THE CHATTER BOX

 
  
  
  The Chatter Box : Blathering On
  
  
  
 
Responsibility in travel by comynn on 4 November 2005 6:32pm
 
Brand new to this site, but not so new to travel. As I'm sure Mr. Palin has learned in his travels, and the rest of us should be keenly aware, the vast majority of the world's population doesn't have the luxury of trotting around the globe for fun. When travel occurs its for work, asistance, sustenance. These are not quaint people with charming customs, wearing exotic "costimes" - they're human beings facing a very difficult struggle for day-to-day survival. Understandably, there is occasional bitterness at those of us able to come and go at will.

What can we do travel responsibily, and how can we use our travels to raise awareness of the situations of those in countries we visit throughout the world?
 
Re: Responsibility in travel by tucsonmike on 5 November 2005 4:21am
 
It's actually a good question. All I have to do to see that is go South into Mexico. Mexico is the place where developed and developing nations meet (remember Full Circle). Just being American makes us rich to most Mexicans (even if you live in a trailer park).
Discovery Times Channel is running a series about an Arkansas National Guard unit serving in Iraq. One of the Guardsmen spoke about the poverty he saw and said he didn't want to hear Americans complain about life.

If we travel to such places, why are we traveling? Is it to gawk at the folks in the "interesting costumes?" To buy their "native" crafts.

Always keep something in mind. When you are in someone elses country, it is their country. You have to respect them and their rules.

I guess the first rule then is to determine, "why are we traveling?" Here, I will give an example. In 1999, I went to Eastern Europe. I had always wanted to go partly, because that is where my family originated, but mostly because I wanted to visit my fathers friends in Poland.
Then again, that makes it easy. They acted as MY guides to THEIR country.

If I am traveling in say, Zambia, it would be something else. (Not sure why I would travel there, but that is for another discussion).

In other words, figure out your motives.

Mike


 
Re: Responsibility in travel by gujie on 5 November 2005 11:42am
 
Why do we travel? There is definitely a lot of different answers to that question. If you have the means to, just go ahead and enjoy yourself, take in the scenery, the culture and everything else. Ultimately, the onus is on yourself to RESPECT the people and the country you are visiting. Whatever you see, whether it is or not to your liking, do not criticise. That I think is part of being a 'responsible traveler'. Some countries' economy depends a good deal on tourism. So when you go there, you are in a way contributing to the economy. So go ahead, buy some local crafts, it may be a few dollars to you but perhaps will pay for a meal for the seller's family.
One simple way to show your respect to the people, greet and thank them in their language especially if its a different one from your own.
 
Re: Responsibility in travel by comynn on 5 November 2005 5:42pm
 
Excellent points. Travelling is good - it opens up one's understanding of the world we live in. It's incredibly important for the traveller to understand that, when they are visiting a different country with a different culture and customs, to respect those differences. But where to draw the line? I've been in places where it's perfectly acceptable for men to beat their wives/children, even in public. Or places where it is expected that kids , as soon as they're able to follow instructions, contribute to the family income by working. You see things like that and a voice in your head says, "this is wrong, no matter what the culture." In HEMINGWAY ADVENTURE Palin has a conversation with a bullfighter in Spain; the man was proud of what he did and felt no need to justify it.

It's one of those things that everyone has to decide for themselves, what they can accept and what they won't, and if they can't, what they are willing to do about it. The trick is always to remember that the world and all its citizens are not embodied or answerable to one individual, nor should they be.

The other point I want to talk about is the wealthy visiting the poor. We can do it easily, they, not so much. In an ideal world, everyone should have the chance to get out and experience other cultures, but the world we live in is far from ideal. It would be great if there was an organization that funded Third World folk - especially youth - to have "eye-opener" visits or exchanges to more affluent countries. Maybe there is one already - if there isn't, who here'd be interested in lobbying powers-that-be to arrange such a thing? Wink wink, nudge nudge to the webmasters!

Craig
 



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