The last two years of my life I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled to more than fifteen countries, each with its own unique appeal and culture. People respond to things differently to things in each country depending on how their culture has shaped their perception of the world. Most people in Africa for example, love to pose and have their photograph taken unless you’re in the prominently Muslim town of Zanzibar.
The one constant across cultures and countries, though are children. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a first world city like Berlin or a remote, poor island in the Philippines, kids have the same outlook on life. Children live in a world where they have not yet been shaped, or molded by the societal norms around them yet. They will make friends with anyone, irrespective of race, gender or religion. While some children in very remote and rural areas, may be initially apprehensive to a white face, which they seldom encounter, but a simple smile or a wave breaks their apprehension and you make a genuine friend. If you’re looking to learn a new language the best teachers are kids, because they don’t laugh at your mistakes, and they never give up on you.
As we raise our children, they start to develop prejudices and stereotypes, and they start to experience a filtered world. We raise our kids to think about how relationships need to look, and which gender is more likely to lead our countries and our economies. These are some of the biggest challenges that we need to try to overcome. We should be building a world with equality for everyone.
Strangely kids seem to know this but we spend years, paying lots of money for education to get them to see the world a different way. We should go back and take the time to see the world around us through the eyes of our children.
The video clip below was taken in Zanzibar (where grown-ups don’t like their photos being taken). Sitting outside a shop reading on my iPad two young boys came over, and despite not speaking any English, we communicated. They were intrigued by the iPad and I turned on the forward facing camera, so that they could see themselves on the screen and pressed record.