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You Don't Have To Volunteer Abroad To Imagine Life In Peace

Posted by Randy LeGrant | Dec 23, 2010, 8:59:00 AM

Happy Holidays from GeoVisions.  We'd like to close our office later today with this Blog post about John Lennon's vision of living life in peace.  We'll reopen on Monday to work on our new website and new programs in the Middle East.  Enjoy this post from our Community Manager, Alexandra.  It's her first here at GeoVisions.

John Lennon's Imagine “Imagine all the people living life in peace” ~ John Lennon

Often we search for people and places that are drastically different from us and from what we are used to. Sometimes this brings us to the far reaches of our world, searching for answers to questions that dwell within us or searching for an immersion in a different country and cultural experience, like when we volunteer abroad, in order to learn a bit more about ourselves.  Other times, we can find these experiences right under our nose and we may be surprised at what we can find there, realizing that people are more the same than fundamentally different.

Lucky enough to have one of the greatest cities just a couple hours away, I recently traveled to Manhattan for a weekend during the busiest times of the year. Being the weekend before Christmas, the city was overflowing with people, and not much to my surprise, most of them were tourists and many from other countries.  I loved experiencing the city this way, minus the long lines and people stopping dead in their tracks in the middle of the sidewalk to take a photo, but nonetheless it was a great experience.  It was incredible to see so many different people from different backgrounds in one city.  If you’re not careful, or if you haven’t traveled much in New York City, you could possibly experience a bit of culture shock. Although it wasn’t until I walked through the quiet paths of Central Park that I really took the time to appreciate all this diversity. Central Park on its own (even in the dead of winter) is such a beautiful and peaceful oasis from the bustling city center, it is hard not to relax and slow your pace as you walk, paying more close attention to passersby and taking in the sweet smell of roasted peanuts from corner-side vendors.  

Part of John Lennon's memorialMy friend whom I had been traveling with had only seen New York City once (and just for a day) so she was determined to see John Lennon’s memorial on the west side of Central Park in Strawberry Fields.  As we approached, we heard the melodic strumming of a guitar and came to realize a man was sitting on one of the park benches playing and singing Beatles songs. It of course set the atmosphere, and everyone there seemed to genuinely appreciate it even though the area was marked as a quiet zone.  The memorial itself is simple, and without all the people crowded around, it could be easy to miss if you weren’t directly walking through that path.  People waited patiently to have their picture taken by the memorial, and others sat on the park benches and enjoyed the music or each other’s company. If you listened closely, you could hear different languages all around you.  Like magic, there was complete peace and harmony. Not just within myself, but within everyone who was around.  In that moment at the memorial, John Lennon had accomplished his mission of people living their lives in peace. The one word that reads across the memorial, ‘Imagine’ and spelled underneath it ‘war is over’ in fresh flowers suddenly didn’t seem so far reaching. I wish these moments could stretch around the entire world and impact others the way everyone at the memorial was impacted. The simplicity of a shared goal, no matter how big or small brings people together, even if you don’t speak the same language or practice the same religion.  If we took the time to realize these simple yet deep human connections, I truly believe our world would be a better place.

Written by Randy LeGrant

Randy is the Executive Director of the GeoVisions Foundation. He has spent the last 44 years managing organizations that send people abroad on cultural and educational exchanges.

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