Show and Tell – A Story of Gleeful Excitement and Crushing Disappointment

Jun 6, 2024

I have been absolutely captivated by the global community from the time I was very young- watching destination reviews on YouTube instead of slime videos, reading books about random geographic regions rather than wizards and castles, and always striving to see more of the world.

Travel and cultural diversity have had a profound impact on how I view just about everything. They have helped me understand that there are countless perspectives and viewpoints for any situation and opened my eyes to an entirely different world of possibilities.

Show and Tell – A Story of Gleeful Excitement and Crushing Disappointment

During show and tell, my seven-year-old self sat impatiently on the floor, jittering and practically bursting with excitement and energy. I couldn’t wait for the teacher to call my name.

I was tired of seeing the ballet slippers, drawings and snow globes. My eyes fluttered from boredom, but my body couldn’t contain my sheer enthusiasm for what I had to share.

I was absolutely ecstatic to show off my North Korean currency to my class and my teacher.

I was slightly perplexed when the class didn’t share my elation for the bills and coins tucked neatly into the wrinkled plastic bag marked with my name. How was this NOT the coolest thing ever? I, an average girl from Pennsylvania, had access to something from the most secretive and covert place on earth!!

I proudly displayed my coins and talked about where they came from, but felt moderately ashamed after sensing that nobody actually cared to learn about the most isolated place on earth.

Huh?? Nobody else pondered the secrets that must be held there- nobody else pondered how the North Korean people lived?

How could they not want to know more about this secluded place? We truly know so little about the nation, and my wheels were ALWAYS turning when I spotted those coins. I sat back down as a sense of disappointment raced my spine.

I should have brought in my stuffed bunny instead.

What Happens When the Bunny Just Won’t Cut It?

My mind was invariably roaming, always wandering in different directions. Nothing captivated me in the same way that exploring other cultures did.

My uncle was a missionary who traveled to a multitude of places the media told him not to, including North Korea. The stories he shared helped mold my perspective of the world and sparked my pursuit of cultural and geographic knowledge.

The idea that each of the 196 nations that make up our global community live so drastically differently from one another has held me in an absolute chokehold for as long as I can remember.

I yearn to understand how people live. I crave the stories that they tell. I want to know everything- customs, politics, economics, you name it. My seven-year-old self struggled to solve multiplication problems, but she could always intelligently engage in a scholastic conversation about the effects of war on the socio-political state of the Middle East!


That’s Where Travel Comes In…

I want to experience diversity when I travel. Because my hometown is primarily made up of people who look like me, I find myself preoccupied with anyone who doesn’t. Travel has introduced me to new faces and places – and the understanding that our differences can be our greatest assets.

I like to think that my dysfunctional level of empathy (ask anyone who knows me!) is a result of my infatuation with the world around me. Exposure to culture will do that to you. The realization that the world is not always as pretty as your small hometown can hit like a ton of bricks, but it’s an immensely valuable lesson to learn.

I’ve been blessed to see a good bit of the world, and with each new experience I am absolutely stunned by the vastness of our globe and society. I’ve learned to never judge a book by its cover- and especially to never judge people by how they are portrayed in the media.

At the end of the day, people are still people and shouldn’t be pigeonholed by labels or misconceptions. I’ve learned that to create a narrative, it’s imperative to live in that moment, rather than to judge what you hear.

Travel gives us those moments. With each new destination comes a new experience, a new tour guide, new friends, and a new adventure that’s just waiting for you. It’s your choice to be bold enough to pursue it.

North Korean Currency = Life Trajectory??

My peculiar childhood interest has definitely not gone away as some hyper fixations do. Instead, my passion for cultural knowledge has only intensified with time. As a result, I’ve decided that I want nothing more but to study cultural connections and pursue a career in international relations.

If all goes well, travel will be part of my life path – and I can’t wait to see who I meet along the way!

Written by Molly Geissler.