My Thoughts on “Walk a Mile in No Shoes”

Note: Check the previous blog post below or click here to read about Jean’s experience in Tanzania so far.

As a Youth Writer for Youth Challenge International, I’ll be writing about my experiences in Tanzania and hopefully help others who are looking to volunteer abroad and gain new skills and have an incredible experience. I’ll also touch on my internship in Cape Town, South Africa as well, as that was another fantastic learning experience and I think I have a lot to say about Africa on the whole. You’ll find these written pieces on here and it’ll vary I’m sure, from articles to blog posts to photo blogs. As some you may already know, I love taking pictures so don’t be surprised if you see photo blogs.

I’m in the process of brainstorming, trying to come up with something new and fresh, something that no one has written about before. Pulling from my personal experiences and looking at where I am now I think will help me find stories to share. It’s always interesting to reflect on past experiences. To reminisce, look through old photographs, remember small moments. To think about things you wish you’d said or done in retrospect, though you should never have regrets, just keep in mind “next time…” is the more positive approach. And honestly, anywhere you go, it’s a journey. Doesn’t matter if it’s around the world or in your own city or town. And to be able to look at things from a new perspective is key in anything you do.

The aforementioned blog post (I’ve reblogged it, see previous entry) by Youth Ambassador Jean Lawson, currently on project in Zanzibar, caught my eye and after reading it, I just had to share it. We’ve all heard the expression “Walk a Mile in His/Her/Their Shoes”, usually meant both as a metaphorical and literal statement. But what if you don’t have any shoes, literally? What if you’ve grown up living without shoes, something which is a great source of comfort, something we love to shop for and which we put on our feet without a second thought?

Jean talks about how she has literally experienced this, watching children who go on with their lives without shoes, from simply walking around to play soccer. She considers the statement literally and then metaphorically looking at things from a different perspective.

If you think about a shoe, it’s safe, warm, comfortable and protects our feet from the ground, from pavement, sharp rocks, gravel. Now take that shoe and imagine being enclosed in it (I just remembered a children’s book called “The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe”, based on a nursery rhyme). It’s just like how other things in our lives keep us comfortable. Running water. Electricity. Heat. A roof over our heads. Please know that I’m not trying to send anyone on a guilt trip, it’s a fact and also something we should be aware of, and so I’m stating it as it is.

No matter where you go, you always have to be open to seeing things from a different perspective. And I think the ability to do that is so valuable in anything you do, and especially when you’re overseas. I liked Jean’s ability to recognize her initial perception of Africa, and then being there and experiencing it and recognizing the need to look at things from a different perspective.

Be sure to take a read, enjoy!

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