When I look back at the headlines from 2015, it was a pretty rotten year. The world looks like a pretty scary place when you see a constant stream of terrorism, political fighting, climate change, and gun violence. My goal in 2016 is to help people look beyond the headlines.
Here are some examples from recent news:
New Year’s Eve headline: A high rise building caught fire in Dubai, burning right next to the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, as the city celebrated New Years with their annual fireworks (1).
What I think of when I hear about Dubai: I only spent one night in Dubai, but I’ll remember watching the spectacular dancing fountains just below that tall tower, the Burj Khalifa.
Last week’s headline: China will get rid of its one child policy, and starting yesterday, January 1st, 2016, families will be able to have two children without huge tax fines (2).
What I’ll think of when I hear about China: I spent 7 weeks teaching English speaking high school students about China during the summer of 2012. I’ll remember so many amazing moments, such as volunteering with the Migrant Children’s Project, helping children from families unable to go to public school because of a complex government policy.
Last month’s headline: Forest fires in Indonesia this year destroyed 6.4 million acres of rainforest and farmland, causing more than half a million people to develop acute respiratory infections (3).
What I think of when I hear about Indonesia: The beaches of Bali will be forever etched into my memory, but the island’s friendly people are really what make this place so compelling to tourists from around the world.
Last year’s headline: Terrorists took over a hotel in Bamako, the capital of Mali, keeping hostages for many hours (4).
What I think of when I hear about Mali: I’ll remember the amazing people who took care of me during my time volunteering there. And listening to the beautiful Muslim call to prayer at one of the most amazing mosques in the world, made entirely of mud.
Nobody knows what 2016 will bring, but let’s all work together to look past the headlines, and see the people. As you can see, travel helps me feel connected. What helps you to stay hopeful?