When I was younger, I traveled to Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Tunisia, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Israel, and many other countries to see the world. I was passionate about life and what’s out there.
For over a decade, I enjoyed the beauty that other lands, traditions, and cultures had to offer. I took long walks in regal towns with colorful houses and flower-adorned alleys, sat on floors of Bedouin homes to drink delicious, minted tea and eat tanoor baked bread, rode donkeys and horses, buses, and trolleys, all while reflecting on the wonders of life. The process filled my heart with love and life, and it cleansed me of many preconceived notions, prejudices, and beliefs. It also helped me understand other’s points of view, including animals, trees, and nature.
During my last few trips, something changed in me. I realized that I no longer needed to travel far to experience the wonder and beauty of other cultures. It’s all right here, just around the corner from home. Coming to this realization, I feel the same excitement as when I used to travel regularly. I meet the most wonderful people and visit the most fascinating places on a regular basis whenever that desire comes up – no need to look for travel dates and tickets!
Just recently, I visited the Arab American National Museum with colleagues, where we learned about the Mandaeans, an ancient people that I had researched but not extensively. Afterward, we enjoyed lunch at a Yemini restaurant followed by coffee at a Yemini café. Not long ago, I attended a gathering at a nearby church where a spiritual teacher, Ashwin Kapadia, PhD, who is visiting from India, gave his discourse in Integral yoga. In July, I had the pleasure of interviewing indigenous minority communities from Iraq: the Yazidi, Mandaean, Marsh People, and Kurdish. Why did I highlight their communities? Because I love celebrating others’ heritage as much as I do mine!
Learning to celebrate and honor your heritage is important, but it’s just as important to do so unto others. This teaching, which is prevalent in America’s focus on diversity these days, has brought much richness and value to this country.
What richness is around the corner of your home that you can travel to this week?
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There’s a lot of exciting things happening and I’d love you to be a part of it. I’m particularly looking forward to a new book club by a UK-based art historian and author, Emily Porter, and the first annual Beth Nahrain Conference which will focus on writers of Mesopotamian descent. See below for details!