The global way to learning

When you hear the word education and learning the first visual image is that of a classroom. Why is that? Because over the years our system of training and learning has begun and ended in a classroom.  Somehow my best memories from growing up have always been and will remain of all the outdoor activities I was involved in. Be it going for a trek, mid term vacations or just simply going for nature walks in biology class. The most interesting thing was, that I still remember everything that I learned during these excursions. I remember the names of flowers and trees because I touched and felt them, I remember the people I met on my treks because I sang songs with them while cooking Maggi at the end of a long day of trekking, I remember forming close bonds with strangers through shared experiences. There was much to learn through all of this.

Here is what I have to say. One of the best ways to learn is through travel. Get out there, be on the job and learn on the road. Fortunately now, times have changed and we exist in a time where it is easier for people to get out of their comfort zones and travel to places that could be nearby or to far away lands. Here are some of the reasons why travelling is now turning into a magnificent way to learn.

Open your mind to new experiences. I always try and ensure that I travel a little bit on my own every once in a while. You see when I’m out there on my own I am outside my comfort zone and outside my network of friends and family. This means essentially that I am forced to strike a conversation with random strangers and connect with people. When you are on your own you aren’t performing for anyone other than yourself and that helps build your confidence levels in interacting with people and at the same time it introduces you to different experiences and mindsets. You are forced to find similarities between yourself and other people as compared to differences in order to be able to connect, which in itself is the first step towards building strong ties and learning how to socialize.

Self discovery. Each time I travel I learn a little bit more about myself. Each time I push myself to do something that I thought I would not be able to do ordinarily I realize that I can do that and find myself setting a new target. It’s quite simple, anything that I find myself hesitating to do, I ensure that I do it. Whether it’s rock climbing for the first time, skydiving or any other thing that makes you pause and hesitate. On a very simple note, I never used to walk into a restaurant to eat alone. I was afraid that people would think I had nobody to eat with. This was till I once decided that no matter what, I had to overcome this hesitation. I was in a new place on an assignment and I walked into this lovely German bakery alone and ordered myself the best meal possible. Within a few minutes of my being there I had a couple who was on vacation asking if they could join me and we ended up having a wonderful fun evening together while all cultural differences melted away with overcoming the first barrier of hesitation.

Get inspired, get curious and get hungry. One doesn’t always have to go looking for inspiration. Just stay open minded and ready to absorb experiences like a sponge and inspiration will find you. Sometimes when I walk though ancient monuments built many thousands of years ago I find myself in awe of the fact that many great minds might have walked that path before me and the colossal effort that must have gone into building something that became an integral part of the history of mankind. That realization is enough to spark off your curiosity and the need to learn more about the path you walk takes over and allows you to explore further.

Collecting precious experiences and memories. I once had his Holiness, the Dalai Lama sit in the adjacent seat when on an aircraft. I was unaware of the fact that the seat was his till his security requested me to shift in order for them to be closer to him. It was those once in a lifetime moments that I was just not ready to give up without a try so I asked his Holiness directly if he would allow me the pleasure of sitting next to him. He just smiled and asked his security to sit elsewhere. I have not had a more memorable or a richer experience. We spoke about life, the Tibetan struggle and I showed him the work that I had done while photographing his monastery. The real learning came from observing him and hearing him talk with that sparkle in his eyes that had more positivity than even a child. I saw a man that was truly at peace and had the power to bring humaneness into humanity. I could not have learned this in a classroom.

Classroom learning does have some undeniable benefits but as travel is now becoming more and more accessible to people it is also turning out to be one of the best ways to enrich one’s experiences and help build character. There is no age for learning. Travelling and seeing new worlds helps one in becoming a more fulfilled human being, while learning how to appreciate, respect and value their surroundings and other individuals. The adventurous spirit and that hunger for knowledge is what keeps us alive and it needs to be fed through new experiences in order to strengthen the human spirit. No matter what you do, you will never come back poorer of knowledge at the end of a journey.

About the author: Neha Parmar is a wildlife photographer and a conservationist with some tolerable talent for writing. If you liked, connected or have a contrary perspective with anything that you read please feel to share your feedback. 

To see more work by Neha Parmar

Disclaimer: This article remains copyright of the author and is her individual perspective. If you wish to give any feedback please get in touch with the author. 

I am a leader. Are you ?

The biggest challenge about being young is finding your own voice. Unfortunately we spend the better part of our lives trying to conform to socially acceptable norms and trying to fit in. Be it in school, college, work or even home, we struggle all our lives to fit in. There is no room for individual opinion anymore and the collective seems to have taken over our lives. What we have always been tutored to do all our lives is to “play the game right” with not much emphasis on what path to follow in order to accomplish this. This is the root cause of what stops us from becoming thinking individuals and this is what we need to stop doing.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by” - Robert frost

At some point we have all dreamed of attaining glory and fame or whatever other form of achievement it is that is important to us. Not having the courage to walk your chosen path is the only thing that has stopped us from attaining that glory. The ones who have attained that pinnacle of personal achievement are the ones that have chosen to be fearless and carve their own paths.  We look upon them as leaders and think those are the ones to follow. Truth is that there is a leader within all of us. Each one of us is a leader and the only real difference between those that become it and those that don’t is fear. Be fearless enough to walk alone and you shall never live in shadow again.

I don’t believe that suffering is the only way to attain strength or glory, but I do believe that the best way out is through, which can entail hardships that need to be endured and not avoided in order to overcome our inherent fears. Think about a time when you wanted to do something but didn’t because you were afraid. I once got on stage to sing a song that I had rehearsed many times. I was petrified as I had always feared the stage and was sure that I would do something to mess things up. That is exactly what I did. I sang the wrong song. But when I did sing the wrong song I realized that I was still singing well, even after having blundered so, and the minute that realization set in I was unafraid anymore.

Taking responsibility for ones own actions is the first step towards becoming a leader. Right or wrong, take your own decisions and along with that the responsibility for the consequences. You know the best part about doing this is that you start to listen to your inner voice for guidance. Most people call it instinct and that is something that we learn how to suppress with time. The second you start to take your own actions and decisions that voice wakes up and becomes stronger. And trust me, it is the biggest guiding force in our lives. Always, always listen to your instinct and follow it.

Being honest isn’t all about not speaking lies, it’s also a lot about being truthful to yourself. The only person that you need to face at the end of the day is yourself and if you can look yourself in the mirror then you’re on your way to finding that leader inside. What this reminds me of is a chance meeting with a tarot card reader once who looked me straight in the eye and said that my biggest weakness was that I was too honest and that I walked the straight path. I was unable to decide what shocked me more, the sincerity with which she said this or that what was once considered a virtue was now looked upon as a vice. I decided that she was an integral part of the herd that I didn’t want to follow.

Finally, one of the biggest driving forces in the world is the power of positivity. To bring any sort of change in your life or to the person that you are one needs to be the change, one needs to believe in their dreams and aspirations and change their beliefs, if need be, in order to reach their goals. The leader within you will only come forth if your beliefs are driven with positivity. Think about it, is it possible to start that venture you’ve always wanted to if you are saddled with negative thoughts beforehand? Your thoughts are who you are and the only people that others will look up to are the ones that can infect them with positivity and enthusiasm. Positivity is that magnetic force that we always tend to attribute to people we admire and mostly it translates into their charisma.

Our beliefs can be constructive or destructive and in order to find your own voice one needs to tune to a positive frequency. You know we’ve always been taught to do things that conform and when someone decides to take an off beat path our first reaction is to judge and say he’s being foolish and that is not the right way to be. Change that reaction. Respect that person for having the courage to follow their instinct.

You know leadership isn’t all that it is perceived to be. It isn’t all about leading a pack but more about having the ability and strength to be an individual. To have individuality and a thought process, that is not dictated by others, and the courage and conviction to stand by your choices. Let the leader in you emerge and walk that path of truth, honesty and fearlessness. Never shall you be lost or walk in the dark again.


About the author: Neha Parmar is a wildlife photographer and a conservationist with some tolerable talent for writing. If you liked, connected or have a contrary perspective with anything that you read please feel to share your feedback. 

To see more work by Neha Parmar

Disclaimer: This article remains copyright of the author and is her individual perspective. If you wish to give any feedback please get in touch with the author. 

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