In the words of John Ciardi, “The classroom should be an entrance into the world, not an escape from it.” Of course, this essayist, poet, columnist, and author was no newcomer to adventure himself. From the spectacles of seven states to the battles of World War ll, this son of Italian immigrants journeyed throughout America and far beyond its borders – and by the time of his March 30, 1986 departure, compiled for himself remarkable wisdom, essential experience, and a personalized global perspective.
The term “global perspective,” according to Stephen F. Austin State University, is commonly expressed as the understanding of the interdependency of nations and peoples and the political, economic, ecological, and social concepts and values that affect lives within and across national boundaries. Simply put, a global perspective is an individual’s own recognizing of the different aspects that influence our generation and the role they play in our daily presence.
Through personal observations and incidents, I’ve reasoned that this is a considerably broad and general description of such a phrase. Instead, I see global perspectives as people’s unique viewpoints on their regional, national, and universal web of ties to others, and their individual inferences on how they are laced into the fabric of society.
In this era of expansion – as a means of familiarizing yourself with your earth, your home – there lies a definite value in developing your own global perspective. And perhaps the most fruitful way to do so is by experiencing the world firsthand.
Computed with the use of the 2001-2010 figures issued by the U.S. Department of State, I found there to be 110,793,321 full-fledged passports in American possession (assuming that the validity of each is the customary lapse of 10 years). Out of an approximate population of 308,745,538, that gives for quite a measly amount of Americans with access to international air transportation. And considering that today’s worldwide travel is generally confined to some form of an aircraft, that leaves a mere 35.8 percent of our citizens exploring beyond our borders.
Moving to a national overview, it’s interesting to note that while there were 14.1 million domestic visitors to Washington D.C. in 2005, it plummeted to 13.9 million in 2006, according to DK Shifflet & Office Travel & Tourism Industries, Department of Commerce. While the original number is slowly being restored and exceeded, we can’t help but notice that ever increasing degree of disdain and carelessness for some of our greatest national landmarks. Many a story is told from the past, and often the finest global perspectives are the ones that fuse the viewpoints of the past with those of the present, establishing that sense of harmony between the times gone and the times arriving.
Therefore, without a single doubt, travel is an influential slice, a vital wedge, in each individual’s sphere of worldwide wisdom. It’s important to note, though, that the genre of travel brings in an extensive range of possible destination categories, the most common being typical tourist spots – a boardwalk and beach, a bustling city, etc. While these sorts of destinations can most definitely contribute to an individual’s understanding of lands beyond his own, the essence of a region can be missed if one simply visits the areas shaped for the tourists. In order to fully ripen a global perspective, then, there lies a definite value in extending one’s range of destinations to include terrains in which one can see the daily lives of the native people in their native environments.
Thus, I encourage each individual not only to broaden his mind with travel, but also to broaden his travel, and in turn broaden his global perspective. And so, in the end, caged in our houses of habit, attempting to discover ourselves in the darkness, exercising inexperience, it’s high time we lift the curtains, unlatch the windows, and see some light.
— Henna Hundal is a resident of Turlock. She will be entering high school and writes a monthly column on matters related to youth and our society.