Never forget where you came from. That’s what Grandma taught us, right?
Everyone has a certain sense of pride about where they're from. Whether you think your hometown is the greatest city in the world or secretly hate it—you won't let anybody else talk bad about it. You feel like that criticism is a right of expression reserved for people that grew up in the same area you did.
If someone ever wants to visit, you're the first person to offer to show them around. You say things like, "Let me show you what my city is like for real." Why? Because you want to leave that person with a good impression about a world that's deeply personal to you—something that established your foundation and helped shape the perspective that fuels how you see life. Your hometown is just that—yours.
No matter what town we come from, that sense of pride and ownership is something we all share. So, why does it seem we can be so reluctant to understand other people's point of view that was developed by their experience growing up? Why should we care about someone else’s foundation?
The answer is simple: it gives more insight to who you are and what you stand for. Not only does it make them feel like you care but it also opens their ears and minds towards your perspective. It disarms whatever wall has been built that blocks someone from hearing what you have to say.
Barack Obama spoke to this during his chat at the University of Chicago, his first public address since leaving office. A young pharmacist recounted the first time she met the Former President as a then Senatorial candidate.
I remember the first time I met you I tapped you on the shoulder and said, ‘"Hey Mr. Obama can I get a picture?’" You said no and at first I was like “oh no” then you said “No, not until you tell me your name”. And you extended your hand to shake mine.
That moment made a young girl feel like her voice mattered, allowing her to be open-minded to what the candidate postured at the speech that day.
That moment made me focus on a couple of the 44th President’s quotables at the University of Chicago that resonated and reaffirmed why it matters to engage with people different from you.
“When you talk to individuals one on one there’s a lot more that people have in common that divides them”
When we take the time to engage with people with different backgrounds and values, it has the power to expand your outlook and more thoughtfully form your beliefs. Genuine sit-downs not only humanize the ideals of a person; they also stretch you personally.
We often default to our comfort zones in times of contentment and times of conflict, yet our comfort zones are rarely challenge our conventional wisdom.
“We learn more by listening to understand rather than listening to respond.”
Have you ever been in a conversation and had that comeback on-deck like Big Papi Ortiz in the bottom of the ninth? This was likely before you even took the time to understand why the person in front of you had this particular point of view. Listening to respond creates a contentious environment that prompts the ego to take over. You just want to make sure you’re heard. Listening to understand opened the door for empathy—an opportunity to settle on common ground while maintaining different viewpoints.
People never forget a moment that you took a genuine interest in them. That’s something I’ve seen hold true first-hand in these first two months of international cultural exploration. Each interaction has been met with sincere gratitude, simply because I cared about learning more about their personal story and what makes them prideful about where they're from. But, I am also grateful that they opened themselves, their families and homes up to exchange with me and chat about what makes them prideful about their home.
Just because we open our minds and hearts to someone else’s point of view, perspective or culture doesn’t mean we’re forgetting where we came from. It doesn’t mean we pulled a Shea Moisture and tried to quell the uproar with a Pepsi.
We always know where home is. And within the process of sharing a little of our home and being willing to allow someone to share a little of theirs is how we create an ever-growing, extended family.
In this week's episode of Extended Family, we have a chat with a Croatian millennial about media, politics and how it effects her community, take a trip to Dubrovnik to learn about Game of Thrones and how the locals have dealt with the explosion in tourism, and take a deeper look into what inspired a tech pioneer to build a start up community in his small hometown of Split.
To become apart of the Extended Family, join the daily journey on Instagram @bcamboss