I had a good talk with Gregg Finley at one point during our time in the Philippines about the importance of experiential learning and the idea that experiencing something has a much bigger impact on a person than just reading about it or receiving a lecture on a specific topic. Especially when it comes to 3rd world poverty/injustice issues for a first world person. Though the media is filled with propaganda, news, and pleas for help from around the world, it is still surprisingly easy to ignore. It seems to be only the people who are already interested in the issues and those somewhat informed who pay any attention to foreign activities. However, it is a lot harder to ignore an international crisis if one has experienced it first hand. When you meet someone who is in a terrible situation and take the chance to talk with them, bond with them, and hear their story, a personal connection is made between you and that person/issue. The situation becomes much more real and personal. So what am I suggesting? I am suggesting that in order to get people motivated to make a difference in this world and to become concerned with the issues of this world, the most productive way to accomplish this is for some kind of personal experience to take place. If that isn’t enough to motivate people to do something about this world we live in then we truly live in a cold world. I’m also going to suggest that when this takes place I wouldn’t recommend going into the place thinking that you are the solution to all of their problems and that you are going to be some kind of saving grace because you will probably take more from them than you will give (I know this from personal experience). An idea that I’ve been focusing on a lot since being in SEA is that of the attitude of the people I meet here who are living in conditions much worse than my own. These people have an indescribable joy despite their circumstances. Where does this joy come from?
One final note that I want to point out is this: ‘westerners’ have a very skewed idea of the Islam world and the Muslim religion. Most of our information is surfaced and biased coming primarily from the media. And I just want to point out that out of the two countries and four villages that we have been to, consisting primarily of Christian people with only a small part of our stay being with Muslim’s, I have seen Jesus’ example most in the Muslim people.