I think we're all living in the United States because we either a) don't have the means to leave or b) don't know anything else and stay out of fear of the unknown because honestly it's a terrible place for most of us.
First and foremost, I want to give context to this question. Earlier in the year, when I knew I had to teach math again, I realized that no matter what I did the American Education system would find a way to undermine my skills. While a day before my trip I even found a wonderful job idea (educating high school teachers on how to get their kids to college, this is still in my thought box), I realized that in order to change I would either have to leave Education or leave the country. At first, I was excited at the prospect of a Ph.D. I was trained to be a scholar so I could do that and then be a professor. Then I learned about the variety of hoops to jumps through to get a Ph.D and even more to stay a professor. At that moment I resolved to move towards entrepreneurship to help adults with finance, life coach and other need. The best concept here is I finally made a website and more. Then, I traveled abroad for seven weeks......
There were many concepts to learn about in SE Asia and each country had their needs, solid funding for schools (highly appreciative students and parents), and a myriad of quirks that varied from country to country. It was the trip of a lifetime. And while I learned about culture, food and temples (more on that in the later blogs), I couldn't what these countries got right. Khmer (Cambodian) students could take lunch at home and then come back, Jogjakarta on the island of Java in Indonesia boasted hundreds of universities, the uniforms of the Philippines and Thailand were pristine, and in Vietnam you could learn the unfiltered truth about one of the worst wars of the 20th century. Along with this, I found a variety of infrastructures that were well done - Hong Kong buses, the true diversity of no one being the same race on staff in Dubai, Thailand's acceptance of Transsexuals in the workplace and the whole entire concept of city/state/country, Singapore. I also found a people who were so much happier than most Americans even though they made a fifth of what we do and have to deal with inconveniences daily. As such, this began to shift my values on "What is it to be rich?"
The entire time, I kept having to compare ideas, buildings, people and ways of culture to the US. many times; honestly, America seemed far more foreign than anything else I experienced. With Obama leaving, Trump, Hilary and the shootings I had to wonder why they wanted to go to my home country which I had hit a wall in trying to fix. Then I watched Princess and the Frog, Orange is the New Black Season 4, Steve Jobs (Fassbender version), Zootopia, and Michael Moore's "Where to Invade Next." What I got from all of them is the value of happiness. It sounds cliche, but I've been a selfish person for a very long time - family, lovers, friends and even with my students all to get that coin. But then you meet a lady in Laos, who sells sausages for about $1.25 and is simply ecstatic that you chose to speak Lao to her. She is inherently fascinated by you, she wants to know you, try english, be genuine and she averages probably $200 a month and she is so happy. In the reverse, all of us sit here complaining with our smartphones (blessing in disguise to not have one) when we could buy every sausage she has for a day's pay.
And I started to try to make sense of why I wanted money, why I needed money. Mostly the money was for wild times with women (I'm honest), suits, living expenses and travel - lots of it. What if I stripped those away, but I had a loving family, a job I loved and a community in which the next door neighbor actually said hello; how much happier would I be? I would be a whole lot more happy I discovered as I don't know how to be like that as well in the USA. I don't want to leave permanently, a lady in Malaysia made sure I understood that I couldn't run away forever as it would never solve the issues. She said that taking a break to educate people about your home and to learn better ways to deal with your home is always a wonderful choice before you return. Plus once you get into 3 weeks living abroad and losing US dollars, debit cards, phones, getting sick both in stomach and in throat you begin to become resourceful and realize that hey I don't have to live in the US to be happy.
I need a break from the US to be honest, what that means for family, relationships and children who knows (I've become more comfortable being relaxed and flexible as unpredictably can be absolutely normal), but I will take whatever comes instead of molding to fit the American Dream. Obama has been of the best things to ever happen to this country and it's sad to see us scrambling to tear it down after his legacy of progress. All of my travel with the exception of Canada has been during his presidency and it is beautiful to hear praise of your leader in every single country; yes even in a temple in the middle of Bagan in Myanmar. Furthermore, people harken you to Obama in both the US and abroad and as a Black man living in America teaching several Black students that is powerful and has been glorious. But I now need to educate others who are not aware of the racial, sexual, gender, and class implications of our country because I don't know if the next leader will help it. Plus educating people about their concerns on the US is teaching and I was able to learn and teach in reciprocity about my country and the ones I was visiting. Maybe I will be gone for 4 years, more likely less (my mother worries - even though our relationship is so political), but I enjoyed learning about the world and what they think of a country who thinks it is the best one on earth when it is not at all.
I'm still narrowing down what country to go, but in the meantime let's continue to enjoy life until I get away from this lie for awhile to help make more people have happiness. Good to be back everyone and join the newsletter which I will try to adjust weekly.