My Story

brayn williams

I have been traveling as long as I can remember. I come from a family that was very much into the concept of the American road trip, state hopping in our beat-up suburban every summer. Since then, I have expanded my territory of travel to other parts of the world, all the while letting my world view shift and change as my experiences also shifted and changed.

I clearly remember the first time I visited another continent, however. I had flown from Boston to Paris, not a terribly long flight, but with the time difference I was jet-lagged and exhausted. I had culture shock from the moment we landed and I went to collect my suitcase. Though it wasn’t there. I eventually did find my suitcase, which had been thoroughly broken and all of my personal belongings were just hanging around everywhere. Not exactly a positive experience. Then it went on to where I couldn’t find my contact and no one seemed to be able to help me. If I asked if anyone spoke English, the response was, in English, “no I don’t.” But it was a good lesson for me. You cannot go to where someone else lives and demand that they adhere to your preferences and needs. It just doesn’t work that way.

Since my doomed Paris entrance, I have now visited over 30 countries on four continents, with so many more to go. I have stood out and fit in, with both being unsettling. You get used to the culture shock of it and just learn to accept people of difference cultures without issue. I really encourage people to travel. It will open your mind and supply you with a perspective you may have never even thought possible before.

My children are currently too young to travel with at such long distances without losing my mind, but I hope to one day be able to share with them the different world views that exist as well as how it feels to be an outsider in another country. I think it helps us learn to appreciate our own country while teaching us to keep an open mind when we meet strangers here at home.

I think it’s a learning experience to put ourselves in a situation where we are a misunderstood minority. It can teach you both empathy as well as humility, which will only make you a better human. I think that while not all of my experiences have been ideal or perfect, I think that they have all contributed into building who I am today and I am grateful for that. Life is all a process of trial and error. We cannot grow or pretend to understand how the world works if we are too sheltered in our own way of thinking. Let yourself travel and become a citizen of the world. Let yourself be wrong and misunderstood. I think within that you can grow as a person as well as take in knowledge that other people can share.