November 01, 2012

Let’s face it, we're all guilty of using stereotypes from time to time. It’s so much easier for us to make broad generalizations. Complexity and uncertainty makes us uncomfortable. We want to feel like we understand everything, even when we have little information to base things on. Unfortunately, we also know how dangerous stereotypes can be.

Traveling is the cure for stereotypes. On my trips to India, I am always constantly surprised. Every time I think I understand it, something happens that contradicts my understanding. Eventually, stereotypes fade and are replaced by new, richer understandings.

Another interesting thing is how traveling doesn’t just help redefine your views, but also helps you change other people’s ideas as well. At Divakar’s house I’ve been spending a lot of time with his son, Revanth, and his two nephews, Abhi and Akshay. Divakar told me that the boys were happily surprised by my personality. Prior to my arrival, they thought all Americans were serious people. Unfortunately, now they probably think all Americans are totally goofy.