Travel has always been a huge and beloved priority in my life. I got that gene running strong from my dad, who at 81 and along with my brother and cousin, recently returned from an exciting and rugged safari trip to Kenya and Tanzania to witness the incredible annual Great Migration (now added to my ever-growing bucket list). I was lucky enough to get bitten by the travel bug as a kid, as my parents took us to India every two to three years to visit our large family, and we usually stopped somewhere else along the way or back. India back in the 70s and 80s, and particularly my grandparents’ home, was still well preserved and untouched by many modern conveniences like refrigerators and A/C. Satellite TV and modern shopping malls were still decades away. In spite of the heat, torrential monsoon, frequent power cuts, mosquito bites, questionable plumbing and the hardships of jet lag and tummy issues, the abundance of family love more than made up for any of the hassles and really shaped my perspective on life and who am I today. Through this exposure, I realized at a young age that once you scratch below the surface, we’re all so much the same. I thank my parents for giving us that gift. Perspective through travel–there’s no adequate substitute!
After becoming parents, my spouse and I were eager to pass along our love of travel to our 3 boys, not only for the obvious thrills involved, but more importantly, I especially was slightly terrified of the thought of raising entitled kids who had no idea of how to deal with being uncomfortable, which I’ve realized is an all-too-common affliction. Not being willing to deal with hardship and inconvenience exacerbates the “US” vs “THEM” paradigm which is at the root of so many of our society’s problems. Our theory was if we got them traveling really young, enduring airport tantrums and other such hardships would (HOPEFULLY) yield tremendous payoff… and produce global citizens who understand the incredible rewards of giving back.
We can’t all travel extensively, but part of the reason I created Community Heroes was to create a platform for youth to think deeply about what’s going in the world, build perspective about other people’s experiences and situations, grow compassion and give back as much as possible. It’s a time-tested remedy for soothing ourselves, those around and our society at large. If we could really embody the “ME” TO “WE” mindset, there’s hope for working our way back to a civil society once again.