The revolution won't be televised: How traveling can create world peace

I’m writing this just days after witnessing the mass student protests at college campuses all across America calling for a ceasefire in Palestine. The war in Ukraine continues, as well as conflict in Sudan and many countries around the world. Peace seems a lofty, if not far off dream. 

A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.

John Lennon

Recently, poet and conflict resolution leader Pádraig Ó Tuama posed the question, “When have you been convinced to change your mind?” Can we truly understand another’s point of view, something essential to building a peaceful future? 

My answer is simple. We open our hearts (and subsequently our minds) by building relationships. I remember a conversation I had over a decade ago with a Moroccan while traveling with Workaway. He graciously hosted me and asked, “Did you know Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the United States?” I honestly had no clue.

That small piece of missing information changed me. It made me realize how much I don’t know and can’t see without the help of another. It proved the value of multiple perspectives and more than a single story

four smiling women -- mariah with other workawayers and local host in Ghana, and two local toddlers piggyback riding on travellers
When I had the privilege of teaching students in Ghana (again through Workaway!) I gave them an opportunity to tell their own stories. Handing over my camera, I asked them to photograph their school and document the things they liked and what they hoped to change. When I uploaded their pictures, I caught a glimpse of the world through their eyes— certainly not perfect but worth celebrating.

Small acts of revolution happen when we allow others to expand our view of what it means to be human. It happens thousands of times through experiences like Workaway. When we practice connecting to someone else’s reality by intentionally permitting them to change our own, we cultivate a broader sense of belonging, not just to our homeland, our culture, or our family, but to the whole planet.

We promote peace each time we put ourselves in new and unfamiliar situations with a willingness to learn. We create harmony in small moments when we listen deeply to a new accent, rely on body language as a common language, or try a unique dish for the first time. 

Traveling with Workaway allows us to experience moments of vulnerability when we need to rely on others for their hospitality. It offers us a chance to share what we know generously in a reciprocal relationship between host and volunteer. When we open ourselves to give and receive, power dynamics shift and true partnerships are built. This has a ripple effect that can last a lifetime. 

two teenagers in uniforms in ghana smiling while looking into a camera

My experiences with Workaway expanded and deepened my view of what it means to be human. It strengthened my determination to advocate for others while appreciating our differences. It cultivated my capacity to hold multiple truths and perspectives, an essential ingredient for peacemaking. 

Our world can seem chaotic and disconnected. The news certainly doesn’t focus on the millions of positive interactions happening daily around the world. If we give into fear, we’ll find ourselves shutting down and building more walls to keep out the things and people we aren’t familiar with. 

Workaway offers an alternative, a way of engaging with the world that fills us with hope and connection. This hope and my experiences building relationships across cultures and continents keep me going on days when I feel despair. World peace may seem an impossible dream, but it becomes a reality in small moments of care and curiosity multiplied by all of us.

workawayer mariah smiling and embracing her student from volunteering in ghana
world citizensworld peacebetter worldcultural differencescultural exchangetolerance

About Mariah

Mariah Friend is a former Workawayer who quit her job to travel the world for fourteen months, embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. Mariah stayed with hosts in France and Ghana, gaining valuable ... show more...

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