This morning the world woke up to election results that very few expected. While the United States is a much divided country, the expression of shock and disbelief from nations around the world was resoundingly singular. America’s allies feel uncertain about its role in the world going forward.
However, the fabric of global society is held together by more than politicians. It is a collection of millions of individual relationships between people of all nationalities. While people around the world see one version of the United States on television, their perceptions are also shaped by every interaction with Americans that they have had.
As a fellow traveler, you know that everyone on this planet shares the same concerns and hopes: we desire well-being and security for our families, we cry when our loved ones suffer, and we rejoice when good things happen to our tribe. These expressions of shared humanity take on many forms in different cultures, but they have the same emotions at their core.
Just as you may have experienced these expressions traveling in other countries, the local people were also watching you. Travel (at least the Discover Corps version of it) is a two-way experience. Whether you spent an afternoon practicing English with a kid in a plaza in Latin America, or shared a meal with a family in rural Thailand, or lent a hand building a house in Africa – you engaged in a form of citizen diplomacy. You were one of the faces of America. These types of interaction are more profound than a talking head on television; they are intimate, personal and their effects are long lasting.
So, despite the mixed signals our election sent the world, we – individual travelers – still hold the power to represent our ideals and values in the world. Our openness, generosity, kindness, and appreciation for diversity. Now, more than ever, the world needs to come together around our shared humanity – the world needs you.