Written by Uriel Dana who has traveled through 44 countries and lived on three continents. Adapted by Flamencos Team Extranjeros.
Red Córdoba Acoge is a non-profit association that works for a transformation towards a social model of solidarity in which people from different cultures live together. An open entity formed by women and men, from here and there, who share interests and join efforts in order to offer the best possible welcome to all those human beings who, from anywhere in the world knock on the door. Together with ´El Equipo B´, the society belongs to the National Federation of Associations of Pro Immigrants. This is the only Spanish organisation which supports the integration of those fleeing war into mainstream schools and society. Your donation can be made here.
DID YOU KNOW…
Excluding the East and West coasts of the United States, the average American not only does not have a passport but rarely travels past 50 miles from where they were born! The only exposure they have of other cultures is often tv or movies which do not reflect reality. (If drama is not created, there is no story).
Unfortunately this can create fear of new experiences, fear of travel, or worse, gross stereotypes of people. A perfect example is how Muslims are being portrayed as terrorists or dangerous.
Imagine if the entire world thought all Christians were like Scientologists or Klu Klux Klan?!?
An insular society is formed usually by living in an isolated location or a society. Sometimes it is created by poverty (or lack of interest) that has restricted movement or exposure to other nationalities, languages or cultures. Geographical size can also be a major contributor to an insular culture. California is the size of 5–7 countries in Europe and it’s not even as large as Texas or Alaska. If you are lucky to have two weeks off a year and the money to travel, it is barely enough time to travel your own state much less another country.
From Germany, Holland or Belgium is only 5 hours away, Austria can be reached in just 7 hours, France in 10, and Italy in 13. Not on a bicycle, of course! In those few hours, one is exposed to multiple cultures, languages, food, and people. Imagine each state as a different country.
It’s easy if you try and imagine someone from Boston talking to someone from Alabama, Texas and California. It would sound like we were all from different planets, much less countries! If you are curious about other cultures try watching travel videos on CD’s or You tube. Look at their art, research their bestselling authors and read English versions of those books. How are they different and how are they like us? What are they famous for? What were their gifts to the world?
Let me share something many people do not know. Before the Renaissance only priests and monks could read. Much of Europe lived in filth and isolation until the Christian Crusades. The soldiers were not Christians at all, but paid mercenaries to go into Spain and kill off the Arabs that had settled there.
When the soldiers arrived in Córdoba they found a place like no other. The Arabs had running plumbing, in-house baths, fountains, cultivated fruit trees and more libraries than in all of France combined! While the rest of Europe’s lived in fear and superstition the Arabs had traveled the globe and brought books and knowledge from everywhere they had traveled.
All of our knowledge of medicine, including antiseptics and surgery , botany, geometry, astronomy, mathematics (including the concept of zero), alcohol distillation, eye glasses, brass type for printing, just to name a few. It is also where we got the concept of dressing for the seasons, using glass and silverware to eat, and meals in courses. These were the gifts of Arab Muslims to the West. They were so far ahead of the rest of the world that Christian and Jewish scholars had to come from all around Europe to translate and even then it took 300 years! This is what came to be known as the Renaissance or “great rebirth.”.
When we first left Córdoba, we were uncertain about what the future might hold. Packing wasn’t easy. In fact, the hardest part of leaving was what was not going in the panniers. Jobs, colleagues, students, apartment, friends, “stuff”. We would be lying to you if we thought this was “easy”…
The hardest part of this journey came before the journey itself.
When we travel we learn more about ourselves than the world.
Gracias a la Diputación de Córdoba por su apoyo con la causa!
For more information on the beautiful city of Córdoba, Spain, please click here.