Why Authentic International Home Stay's & NOT all inclusives? A BIG and important part of Go Across Travel ( TO PANAMA ) is having our participant travellers live, for a short time and sometimes a longer time, in the homes of people in Panamá. There is positive reciprocity in this arrangement.
#1. FEAR OF OTHER CULTURES AND PEOPLE START TO DIMINISH.
This is a VERY good thing. I don't think I have to explain this. Stay home because your fearful, rooted in a false belief system that keeps you questioning others way of life and experiencing nothing new. NOTHING NEW.... "Same old same old" ...does that sound exciting? People in other countries might surprise you, in beautiful new ways...ways that make you taste or cook new foods that your tongue has never experienced and your nervous system will respond with a positive or negative.... I'm not talking about getting sick here people...I'm just saying getting out of your comfort zone create something that "ramps up" the nervous system into noticing you're out of your normal routine.
COOL, AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCES ALERT! WOW! I NEVER HAD A DRAGON FRUIT BEFORE! I HAVE NEVER ROASTED A CASHEW STRAIGHT FROM THE CASHEW TREE BEFORE! WOW, WE JUST PICKED A MANGO, BANANA, ORANGE, LEMON, PAPAYA etc. etc. from my host families back yard!! Sooooooo COOL! If you share YOUR favourites with them ( *** see video below of our team reaching Panamanian women how to make French toast ) and this gives you a sense of pride in sharing your heritage with others. Its an opportunity to create new friendships in a Panamá kitchen, by DOING something together in THEIR authentic environment. ***NOT in a staged all inclusive resort where people are being hired to come in and dance, or perform ( for a sickening low wage I might add ). Our Panamanian friends are welcoming you into their home because they trust us and we have built a healthy relationship that benefits everyone in their community. Saul's aunties now make french toast often and LOVE IT!
#2. YOUR LIFE HAS NEW MEANING, NEW PERSPECTIVE. Materialism/Abundance/Waste
We recently took some young adults to Panamá and one in particular had a few bumpy culture shock experiences. She shared with us later that it gave her a new perspective on so many things about Panamá but mostly herself. One example that I thought was interesting and she said she appreciated was the simple ways that her host family baked and cooked, with barely any tools ( food processors, strainers, "proper ladles", mixers etc. ).
PERSPECTIVE SHIFT ALERT! She bakes for a living in a small café and the process and experience of "getting down to basics," in a very simple kitchen with the bare minimum, made her realize she ( and the community she lives ) tend to be very materialistic and over buys/consume to maker life easier...but in actuality this stuff disconnects us from the process and makes us want more, when we actually don't need it.
*** Compared to many citizens of the world, Americans have expendable income. While this statement might not be true for all North Americans, the majority tend to spend money on items that appear "material" to other cultures. Coming into this American environment from a culture that is less affluent may be a shock. Enter any well-stocked U.S./ Canadian supermarket and the hundreds of food choices can boggle the mind if you have just arrived from a country with limited supplies and/or selection of goods.
#3. YOU MIGHT GIVE YOURSELF A BIT OF SLACK & SLOW DOWN JUST A WEEEEE BIT.
This is one of the most interesting things to watch when participants come on a adventure, either to live abroad or experience an authentic homestay experience. They have the list of things they want to see or do, they usually have a schedule or agenda...tapping their toes...okay, now what? What's next??.
DISCLAIMER! Depending how long people live away or spend travelling ( in authentic ways such as home stays ) it may take awhile to return home and adjust because they are now back into that very high-speed pace of life – North America/Europe (for the most part) is a fast-paced place. People seem to always be in a hurry. While this "fast-paced existence" may be true in many cities around the world, if you come home from a “laid-back” culture like Panamá to the land of fast food, 24/7 connectivity, and non-stop activities, it takes some time to get used to it again.
REFLECTIVE MOMENTS ALERT! This new home stay experience gives people a new perspective which sometimes just MIGHT give new reflective moments! These reflective moments are priceless because it can help people manage their time better, knowing and noticing that their life CAN be different if they want it to be. They know this because they lived with people that didn't live in this hectic fast paced lifestyle...and they survived and actually thrived. Ahhhhhhh embodying PERSPECTIVE and realizing you have more choice than what you have witnessed in your own home environment is a huge blessing. I LOVE THIS!
#4. VALUES/ATTITUDES MIGHT CHANGE. – After travelling abroad and spending time with other people from different countries, the values and attitudes of some of your family and friends may surprise you, especially if you have adopted new ways of thinking about the world from your experience living/ travelling ( in sustainable authentic ways ) abroad. When we grow up around the same people our entire lives we get use to attitudes, ways of communicating, and overall perspectives. This can be great because we feel we belong, we are part of a "tribe" BUT this can also breed ignorance and limitations about the world and the people around you. Maybe the next time we are in a conversation about, immigration, refugees, safety of travel, how to bake a chicken, the options on what to do for work, where to live and why......GREAT GAINS IN GLOBAL AWARENESS ALERT! .......you will remember the people you stayed or lived with. They might have different thoughts, perspectives and attitudes than you have been use to. Now, you get to take these home and sit in quiet reflection or share this with the people from your own country/town. Notice how your changing...like a butterfly enraging from it's chrysalis. Listening and living with people from another culture will give you great gains in the way you think, communicate, debate and just plain feel in your body and about the world in general.
DID YOU KNOW? We put 10% into a scholarship fund for the Panamanian families that want their youth to travel to North America on a similar adventure/exchange! We are bringing our first Panamanian scholarship recipient to visit Canada in 2020!
<TIPS FOR PARENTS LETTING THEIR CHILDREN GO ON AN INTERNATIONAL PANAMA ADVENTURE BELOW:>
Another great way to create opportunities for you and the people in the country you are visiting? TEACH ENGLISH. Find ongoing sustainable programs that continue throughout the year, even when your not there.