Hello, welcome to another Love Interview! I’d like to introduce Karen, who is a boundary pushing (for everyone’s good) and determined coffee addict and a wonderful friend!
As a pastor and single woman what unique opportunities do you have to create a difference and travel with love?
I have three very different reasons to travel. Holidays, Mission Exposure, and education/meetings.
I’ve taken time after Christmas to travel to Italy, Vanuatu and Austria. I’ve loved the time to recharge, connect with a few friends and be inspired by cultures distinct and far more ancient than my own.
I’ve also been able to travel with Christians to Cambodia, Thailand and another trip to South East Asia is on the drawing board. Rather than dive in to try to “help”, we’ve been able to listen, learn and experience the joys and challenges of communities in developing places. I remember being convinced that I would simply endure Asian culture. Yet I found I loved it. An emphasis on hospitality, etiquette and structure, not to mention everything being slightly small than home was a great fit for my love of structure and my compact 5 foot 1 size!
I travel to Sydney or Melbourne each month for training or meetings. I imagined that this would not have any culture shift, after all, both are east coast Australian cities like mine! Well… I packed brown and cream clothes for Melbourne (a city that only wears black and grey). At no point in those meeting was it necessary for emphasise that I was from out of town!
How can others create a difference + travel with love to impact people who have obvious need ?
Understand that you the traveller are a visitor who knows almost nothing! It has taken you a life time to learn your own culture and ways to make a positive contribution in your town and city. You can’t presume you’ll be able to be a super hero to your hosts in a few weeks or months.
You’re a nurse? That’s great. But in a developing country, you’d need the nursing skills of a 1950’s nurse to make a contribution. After all, you’ve learned at university and using great technology. That probably won’t be available in places of obvious need.
You love kids and know what they need? Then you know that kids need stable relationships that last years or even a life time. Lots of short visits from people who rarely return is confusing and disruptive to any child.
So what can we do? Listen. Learn. Withhold judgement.
Dress conservatively. Give money proactively to organisations you trust who work thoughtfully and respectfully. Make promises you can keep and immediately deliver. Look out for ways to tread lightly environmentally. Stay safe, but don’t be paranoid.
On a more personal note what is your create a difference + travel with love super skill?
In Brisbane, I spend lots of time with young adults who are in Australia to improve their English. When I’m in places where young people are learning English, I help them practice and encourage them. I’m always astounded at the way people are apologetic for not yet having perfect English. I can explain that they speak English far better than I speak any other second language! Speaking at a slower pace, using annunciation and ditching the slang, can make a big difference for English learners.
How are you challenging yourself to create a difference + travel with love in day to day life?
Get out of my car! When I walk and catch the bus I have more opportunities to interact with people and tread lighter on the environment. Waiting and on busses I’ve given directions, explained the Australian political system and helped people find free English classes. When I walk, I can stop by the small businesses and talk to them about their business and family. When the owners of my local coffee shop got their son into university, we had cake to celebrate!!