Monday, January 5, 2009

Life goes on!

After 103 days, 13 countries, over 30 organizations, at least 11 languages and escaping sudden death only twice, Austin and I returned from our round-the-world adventure landing at LAX international airport (and were promptly harassed by customs agents who were not amused that we had crammed every single country we had visited onto one line on the customs form). Traveling for so long, literally changing beds, or sometimes countries every few days was an incredible privilege. I am truly honored to have met so many inspirational, humble and generous human beings along the way. However, I must admit that by the end of our journey, as it came down to the final few weeks, I eagerly anticipated returning home to family and the holidays.

When I am inevitably asked to share any revelations uncovered during our travels I am reminded of my own desires (which is perhaps natural to many NorthAmericanEuropeansPartsofAsia) to collect information, filter for results and work towards the solution. If I have learned anything concrete in my three months traveling is that NOTHING in the greater world is concrete and near fully interpretable. That is to say that I left in search of what I thought were best social business solutions and instead returned with a lexicon of social business questions : Why in the world is there a slum filled with 1 million people living in cardboard boxes directly in the center of metropolitan Mumbai India, a high-tech Mecca and financial capital of India? How is it that women from the microfinance association in Bereba, Burkina Faso have had access to small loans for years, yet they still live in mud huts, struggle to feed their children and have no prospect for further education for themselves or their family? Why have incredibly free markets (without agri-subsidies) and free trade agreements in Latin American countries such as Columbia and El Salvador not increased household incomes for the poor? How is it that engineers and doctors choose to be taxi drivers in Cuba?

This next year I have committed myself to working in El Salvador; first with the micro-credit website and then wherever opportunities take me or however long my bank-account works (whichever fails me first). My hope is to continue in Austin and my trip's traditions: meeting new people and their families, exploring their passions and asking plenty of questions in the hopes that someday all of our communal efforts will create a richer world. (By rich I mean, more just and full of life, it's all about how you read it…)


1 comment:

Lo said...

Sam, thanks for blogging about your trip. It was such a highlight for me to read all about it this fall and share it with my family. Where will you blog once you become a Kiva fellow? Congratulations, by the way! Keep me posted.