Growing up, my family moved a lot: we moved from country to country for various reasons such as economic and political instability. As a young child, I remember telling my grandmother that I just really hated moving. When she asked me why, I told her that I disliked moving to a new place because it meant finding new friends, attending new schools, and sometimes learning an entirely new language. My grandmother always reminded me that I was lucky because they are many “blessings” one gets from traveling. She always encouraged me to seek the best out of each new travelling experience. At the time, I couldn’t see what she was talking about, all I could think was that leaving my home to go to a completely strange and different place was a terrifying idea. Over the years, I have lived in ten different countries around the world, everywhere from Africa to the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and North America.
When I was young, I thought my culture and language was “the right one”. I did not have an outside perspective on different cultures, but that quickly changed when I encountered situations with different traditions. I remember in the Sudan, I often bumped heads with a classmate in middle school, who now remains a close friend, we often argued about many different topics, such as which childhood superhero was better, he liked Batman and Superman was “the hero” to me because he was awesome and is not even from earth, (yes, we read about American super-heroes there). I identified with Superman; he was from the planet Krypton and I was from a different country, which I felt was close enough. He was a superhuman and I wished that I could eventually become one too.
Other times my friend and I talked about which country had the best food or sports. One time I said Central African Republic, my home country, is the best because it has pineapples and fresh guava, but in Sudan there is nothing like that because it is mostly hot, humid, and dusty. Central Africa great basketball teams, but in Sudan they don’t even play basketball. My classmate said that in Sudan they have Shawrima, Kebab, and Shaia (common food among northern African countries and the Middle East), as well as the gigantic soccer stadiums we didn’t have in the Central African Republic. I enjoyed soccer and loved to eat most of the food that he mentioned, but I never admitted it since denying it allowed me to compare and contrast the different cultures. It enabled me to see things from a rather unusual prospective. The differences and common things I shared forged friendships between groups of people with different backgrounds and religious beliefs.
I learned that “diversity” is beneficial when people from different cultures try to communicate and learn about each other. It helped me look at my own culture differently, in a less-biased manner. I may not have gained superhuman abilities like Superman, but I learned to adapt and function within differing societies, which allowed me to have super-traveler skills. I have grown to appreciate the great values traveling added to my life (apart from the lack of superhuman abilities). Finally I understand what my grandmother meant.