How travel has opened my eyes and ears to what happens in the wider world.
27.02.2010 - 28.02.2010 5 °C
Like most Saturday mornings, I woke up yesterday and flipped on the BBC News. The top story was the earthquake in Chile, which is now reported to have caused massive damage in Concepcion and the surrounding area and taken 300 lives.
I never visited Concepcion when I was in Chile in 2003. I took an overnight bus from Santiago to Puerto Varas in the lake district, passing through Concepcion in the middle of the night fast asleep. However, the fact that I had been to Chile - spent 6 weeks travelling to various points from the North to the South of the country - meant that I could place myself in the story. I knew what the geography of the country was, what the buildings are like, who the people were.
I've noticed since I started travelling that I do pay more attention to international news. I've always been a bit of a news junkie, in my 20s and early 30s I mostly read news about local and national issues, and skipped over international news unless it was about the USA and how that might impact the economy.
Travel, though, has made me more aware of the world, and interested in what is happening around our little globe. I now am as likely to click on the INTERNATIONAL tab of a news website to see what is happening abroad as I am to click on the LOCAL or NATIONAL news tabs. I'm always doubly interested in stories about places that I have been to - China's spat with Google or the storms battering Spain, Portugal and France - or places I've been near - though I've never been to Haiti, I have visited the Dominican Republic on the other side of the island and so watched the Haiti earthquake news intently. It is, I suppose, basic human nature. A story resonates more forcefully if you can place yourself within the narrative. By having seen places in person that appear in the news, it is easier to visualise the story in my head.
There are many ways to connect to a news story. Often you can empathise with those impacted without having ever seen the place where it occurred. Other items can help you connect to a story - emotions like anger, fear, humour or revulsion. Being able to connect to a story based on sense of place is just another way to connect, and makes reading the news a richer experience.