We must think differently, look at things in a different way. Peace requires a world of new concepts, new definitions.”
— Yitzhak Rabin
Cruise ship journeys have always been surrounded by acts of global kindness in my life. On our recent journey from Europe across the Atlantic Ocean, Ruth and I started our day routinely with the words “washy, washy”from a friendly hostess from Eastern Europe or perhaps Southeast Asia, reminding us to sanitize our hands before breakfast. Often, these brief moments with our amiable host began with an exchange of pleasant smiles followed by an informal conversation of more personal interest.
When we felt like lounging in private at the aqua spa, a dutiful pool man from India would arrange our comfy lounge chairs as needed as we bowed in Namaste prayer mode to thank him for his thoughtful efforts.Throughout the day, our hard working, cabin steward from the Philippines tuned in to our daily routine and knew exactly when and how to make our room most comfortable. As a consequence, we spent considerable time listening to her keen observations to make our cruise more enjoyable. On the last eve of the cruise we thus felt it appropriate to gift her at cruise end with one of my wife’s homemade bracelets.
While some might expect we are pampered elitists who expect to pay top dollar prices for a luxury cruise experience, that has never been the case. We affordably live in a Fort Lauderdale condominium as early retirees from teaching where casual cruising at affordable prices lies literally close by our doorstep. So our global-friendly experiences as middle class voyagers contradicts so much politically negative talk in our country today about building walls, limiting immigration, and fomenting distrust of foreigners.
Quite frankly, as white supremacy surrounding the Trump Presidency breeds xenophobic distrust today, we make extra efforts to proactively study the differences of other cultures in any place we travel. Consequently, we make behavioral adjustments to bridge language/cultural gaps as needed in unfamiliar places. For example, our experience teaching English Second Language students has taught us that in cases where a foreigner might have difficulty to understanding us, several actions can be used for fostering clearer communication: (1) speak slowly, (2) allow sufficient time to respond, (3) write down your verbal response, (4) respect body space distance and (5) observe behavioral taboos in the local custom.
Wherever we go in any form of transportation , a diligent attempt is thus made by us to tear down walls of difference and find common ground for peaceful engagement. As we enhance our cultural awareness in travel with yoga and meditation practice at home, our judgmental egos can be trained to remain silent. We thus realize that such inner peace fuels the essence of our traveling mind.