Cultural Travel and Seeing What is Real

We so often forget the most important things about being alive. Traveling to another culture can sometimes remind us of the essential ingredients to life and what is real. In the west, we often forget what happiness is really about. Sometimes going to another culture as a volunteer can help to ignite our own human spirit and to open our hearts to what happiness really means. One such story is a volunteer named Afstatios Zevlikaris, a city police officer from Linden New Jersey that volunteered to travel to Ghana.

“At first, you look at all the poverty,” said Zevlikaris, who was struck by the primitive conditions in which people live and children attend school, with dirt floors, dust everywhere and homemade desks nailed together in a sweltering heat of about 100 degrees.But then the people start singing.

Our perceptions are painted by our own cultural inheritance such as what we deem to be important and essential in life. In the west, we think that having all of the most important gadgets and a house, and other material things may wave the magic wand of happiness in our lives. But as Zevlikaris learned, its really not about “having” stuff, it is more about community and singing and belonging to the world. We can learn from the exchange of cultural experiences that open us to new ways of perceiving the world around us, and what our values really mean. Read more about Zevlikaris and his trip to Ghana.

Ghana drummers photo by Emilio Labrador



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