From a detailed and insightful perspective, Peter Kujawinski described his trip taken 17 years ago at the time when Syria was considered a pleasant destination. The corruption and violence consuming the country now presents a stark contrast to the Syria Kujawinski experienced years ago.
As an American diplomat on assignment, Kujawinski was able to immerse himself in the common practices and customs of the Syrian people. He professed of a population motivated by friendship, compassion, and adventure.
The drastic change of mood within the country is disheartening. War has many effects, but perhaps one of the most depressing is the dismal shift in the locals’ motivations. They suffer from a change of values like living to survive the chaos rather than living with the intent to enjoy the fellowship ingrained in their culture.
Of his travel experience, Peter Kujawinski claims, “Memories of travel can linger for a lifetime. But it gets even better. Memories bestow the same benefits as the original trip: They build empathy, broaden perspectives, and remind us, again and again, of our common humanity. They help rattle the cage of assumptions we build through the years. Most of all, they are a gift we give to ourselves — a transfer of spirit from our younger, fresh-eyed versions to the people we are right now.”
Educating ourselves in how others live and understanding the why behind their customs would greatly benefit our attitude toward foreigners. In order to increase our ability to empathize and relate to others who are different from us, we must be willing to be vulnerable. Traveling is the best opportunity to thaw out our stereotypical assumptions of foreigners.
Read his full experience here: nytimes.com/…/syria-travel-border-crossing
From your travel experience, what places provide a fresh insight to life based on the people?