Some things stay the same
Despite the frustration or sadness social media often causes these days, one thing I enjoy about it is Facebook helping you look back on the past. Last night I had a conversation about my time in Malaysia. The person I chatted with had recently returned from a trip abroad and her feelings about it, which were very positive, were still coming together as to how it had impacted her. I found myself during and after our conversation thinking about what I gained from that time chapter. With her thoughts still coming together, I wondered if mine were continuing to evolve.
Today at some point, the social media giant pointed out to me that on this day, two years ago, I wrote a post about the benefits of living abroad as an individual but what I had also recently learned was the case for our country.
The study in Foreign Policy Magazine, reflected on the fact that developing countries are growing at 5-8% compared to our country's rate of <3%. It spoke not only of opportunity to be well-paid for certain services we might fulfill in foreign lands but also of the benefit to the US. When citizens of one country move to another, something quite logical happens, if the business wants to increase its international trade, its employees from other nations are often a great channel for expanding into them. When the numbers of foreign nationals from one country begin to hit certain rates, it can even influence the trade policies between those to countries. This study should still hold just as much water today.
But as I reflect further on the benefits of living abroad and the world in which I live today, I see another positive. When we live amongst people from a different culture, it becomes very difficult to see them as all that different from ourselves. Sure they might speak a different language, eat different food, have a different sense of fashion and may celebrate different holidays, but they want most of the things we want: to feel like they are making upward progress, to have good relationships, to feel safe and secure and a host of other basic needs.
In a world where there is suspicion of people from foreign countries, one of the best things we can do is live amongst people who are different to open our eyes to the fact there is a "right way" to do things. Rather there are many ways.
Live abroad for the adventure, the chance at greater wealth and position in a company, the chance to help your own country grow stronger and the chance to gain a better understanding and tolerance for other peoples. The four of these things strung together strike me as quite compelling.
Go Forth Boldly