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Participant Stories

Working Abroad: Leave Your Camera at Home!

Posted by Alexandra LeGrant | Sun, Feb 15, 2015

Have you ever tried to capture a moment in your life through a camera? Have you ever wanted to take a perfect photo of your adventure working abroad, so you could remember it forever? 

For me, capturing that perfect moment usually never happens in one try. I consider the angle, the lighting, the “oh no someone walked in front us while taking the picture” moment, forcing me to take more than one photo to finally get what I ultimately wanted. It can be exhausting and even take away from the real experience. GeoVisions veteran traveler, David Papier, from Florida agrees.

David has been traveling abroad since he was 20-years old.  Now at the age of 65 he continues to travel with GeoVisions.  He's creating memories and having amazing cultural experiences by working abroad -- teaching ESL.

While traveling on cultural exchanges and volunteering abroad, David enjoyed the idea of living with a host family, and most importantly helping them master the English language. Throughout his travels, he learned that observing another culture is important and that people should reach out of their own culture and dive into another. But what he realized during his trips abroad is that the experience of a culture simply cannot be told through a bunch of photos.

When I asked David to share pictures of his adventures traveling to Ecuador, Costa Rica, Belgium, and Vietnam through GeoVisions, he told me he didn't have any photos to share. It’s not that David didn’t want to share any photos.  He just stopped taking them as he began to travel more and more. He realized, ultimately, there was no need for them.

“When I'm working abroad I don’t bring a camera anymore,” says David. “It made me crazy!”

He believes that focusing (pun intended) on taking a picture to share with others takes up a lot of time and it ultimately can cause a person to miss out on the real experience. Someone can even miss out on other things passing them by while being too fixated on one thing.

When traveling, I’ve experienced the same problem. I become so focused on trying to take a great photo to share with my friends and family, I miss out on other things. Last spring I went on an adventure - snorkeling with the turtles in Barbados and it was amazing.  But afterwards, I realized my main focus was not through my own eyes, but through the lens of an underwater camera.  I always think I need a camera when I experience new and exciting things, especially when I get the opportunity to experience once in a lifetime moments. I like cameras and I think it’s great to capture important times of my life. But at the same time I wish I could capture it only through my own eyes.

Technology surrounds us constantly.  It provides the world with great resources and opportunities. But it can also get in the way of some things in our lives, especially some very valuable experiences.  I think the best advice David and I can give to people, whether they are travelers, concert goers, or whatever their hobby may be, is to live in the moment so you do not miss out on what’s right in front of you.

Topics: cultural exchange, volunteer abroad, Work Abroad

Written by Alexandra LeGrant

Alexandra is the Community Manager at GeoVisions Foundation. She handles all of the Social Media and Alumni relations. Alex loves to travel and meet with our participants.

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