Breaking Down Barriers

A story of how traveling brings you closer to strangers.

As an avid traveler, sharing my experiences and stories is so exciting to me!  The ultimate story experience is when you can connect with someone from that country and build a relationship because you understand their culture and have seen their country.

In this edition of the Peace Stamps newsletter, I want to share with you an interaction that really resonated with me.  At the end of August, I took a cruise to hit four Caribbean island countries, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Antigua & Barbuda, Saint Lucia, and Barbados.  My father was lucky enough to join me on this cruise! On the cruise ship, my father and I sat with two couples at dinner.  One of the couples lived in California and were Vietnamese.  Over the next seven days, we spent a lot of time talking at dinner and getting to know each other.  My love of traveling became a topic of discussion one evening and through our discussion the most amazing thing happened!

The couple opened up to me and the dinner table about how they immigrated to the United States.  It is an amazing story about how they escaped from communist Vietnam and lived on a remote island in Indonesia for an extended period of time!  They had to live off of canned food and had no electricity.  The only belongings to their name were what they could fit in a backpack!  They also shared their experiences after they immigrated into the United States and about how hard it was for them to assimilate.  People would make fun of their accents and inability to speak English.  I was really touched by how they opened up about their experiences and I don't believe this would have happened had I not been to Vietnam and started talking about their culture with them.

I realize that not everyone has the means to travel the world, but it is experiences like this that make me truly believe that if people put in an effort to understand other cultures, we would be heading in the right direction towards a peaceful world!