This TED talk kicks off the second half of my countdown in a big way. Part of the power of study abroad and travel is creating more understanding, yet how does this happen? Richards says, “It all begins with empathy. Take yourself out of your shoes, put yourself in the shoes of another person.”
On study abroad you are physically in a different place, surrounded by different perspectives and ways of doing things. When you’re confronted with diverse world views will you listen and challenge your own or will you defend and point fingers? In my experience it’s not about anyone begin right or wrong, but rather discovering new ways of looking at the same thing.
In my book I speak about how to Ignite Your Curiosity and begin to interact with people and the world differently. Empathy doesn’t always happen automatically. It takes a conscious effort to truly open your mind to other possibilities. When you do this, however, something magical happens. As Richards says, “Suddenly, without realizing it, you’re seeing the world differently. Everything has changed. Everything in your life has changed. And that’s, of course, what this is about.”
How will you make empathy a part of study abroad?