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A New Way of Seeing Things

"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." - Henry Miller

My cultural immersion experiences have shaped my vision of the world. I had a fairly sheltered and privileged childhood. I grew up in a white, middle class family in a small town in the U.S. and wasn't exposed to many people from different races, religions, or socio-economic classes. I never considered myself to be from a "wealthy" family...there were always other families who had bigger houses, nicer cars, fancier vacations. I naively thought that my family's standard of living was quite normal. And I unwittingly developed the notion that to live "better" meant to have nicer things, or go on more exotic vacations.

When I was a freshman in college, I participated in my first month-long immersion program in Costa Rica, where I lived with a family just outside of San José. My host family was the warmest, most welcoming group of people I had ever met.

Their home was small and simple...they didn't have fancy furniture or nice appliances. Showers were cold because electricity was expensive. But the coffee every morning was hot, fresh, and delicious. They relished in mealtime rituals and they went out of their way to make sure I felt at home.

Despite their humble lifestyle, they were joyful and grateful.

This, I realized, is what it means to live well.

To approach every day with joy and gratitude. To have few material needs, and to share everything you have with others.

This was true wealth.

My time in Costa Rica changed my vision and my approach to life. It made me more grateful for the many luxuries in my "normal" life. It heightened my awareness of how privileged I was to have the upbringing that I did, and to have the chance to travel and experience another culture that would broaden my vision and deepen my appreciation for life.

Plus, I would never again take for granted the luxury of a hot shower.

Want to see the world in a new light?


Experience different cultures, different ways of life.

Discover that your way is not the way, but a way of doing something.

Let it humble you. Let it remind you that you occupy only a small corner of the world. And that you're part of something bigger...MUCH bigger than yourself.

Let it broaden your vision and transform your life.

What if we’re unable to travel?

We can spend time with people from different cultures, races, religions, languages, or upbringings…right in our own city or community.

We can be curious...ask questions and listen to their stories. See the world from their perspective and let it broaden our own.

In the end, we usually find we have more things that unite us than differences that separate us.

By Holly Schneider

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