Can Travel Be a Drive for Peace? This Tour Chief Thinks So.

I used to stay in Washington, D.C., which is a quite segregated metropolis, specifically on a class amount, and I recognized that my buddies and I wouldn’t venture out of the neighborhoods we now knew. So we commenced to develop a tour of the city, and we received a Republican and a Democrat to colead it. That initial journey was extraordinary. Looking at the news, you would imagine that if you place a Republican and a Democrat together, they would just chat past every single other. But that was not the situation at all. One of the most fascinating conversations we had was on a stop by to the Heritage Foundation, which is very conservative. Some of the liberal people today in the tour group experienced under no circumstances experienced this sort of open conversation with a conservative that was not just sound bites, but a actual, productive discussion. By the stop of it, the discussion was about “What’s the solution?” somewhat than “You’re doing this wrong or that improper.” It was intriguing. And which is what takes place on our tours in Israel and Palestine. Which is what comes about in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia.

I grew up in Jerusalem, but I in no way had a authentic dialogue with a Jewish-Israeli human being right up until I was 18 several years old. My brother was killed by staying beaten up in prison by Israeli troopers, so I grew up pretty indignant, quite substantially with the concept that the other is evil. And then when I was 18, I made a decision to research Hebrew because I had to — not because I wished to. Residing in Jerusalem, you simply cannot endure devoid of Hebrew. I remember going for walks into the class imagining, “None of these people possibly want me to be here.” And I couldn’t have been a lot more completely wrong. My Hebrew trainer was the most extraordinary human getting. She even experimented with to converse Arabic to me to make me experience welcome. And that was the initially time I felt like I was treated like a human staying by the other.

But right before that second, I only realized a single narrative of Israel, and quite a few Israelis in all probability only know one narrative of Palestinians: the 1 they hear in the news.

I feel it can be much less difficult to be open up to studying about challenges or difficulties that are happening five or 6 thousand miles away. Usually when I speak about my function with Syrian refugees, men and women will say, “Oh, I would like to go and volunteer with Syrian refugees in Jordan or Turkey.” And I check with them, “Have you volunteered with Syrian refugees in your own community? For the reason that if not, you should start off there, and then probably go to Syria.”

We have a tendency to think of travel in phrases of length, but I feel journey is definitely a way of living, a point out of brain. And if you understand to journey in your possess community, you’ll learn to journey when you go overseas. For me, the hardest journey I ever took was going from my residence in East Jerusalem to West Jerusalem. It is just a 15- or 20-minute wander, but making that excursion brought about the greatest alter for me, mainly because it challenged me the most.

There’s an assumption that when people travel, they are not fascinated in learning. And which is not legitimate. Even surveys convey to us it is not legitimate. People want to do superior as they vacation, and they are seeking for tradition and connection. I have enjoyment in my travels: I go see museums, I swim in the ocean, I get pleasure from tunes, all of that. But which is not all that I do. I like to say that vacation is an act of diplomacy: Be a diplomat as you are traveling and go out and meet a person new and listen to their tales. And it’s so considerably pleasurable! It’s the factor that you will bear in mind, and that you will convey to folks about when you occur back again.

Paige McClanahan is the host of The Improved Vacation Podcast.