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I knew how to say milk for a while


When someone asks a group of women if anyone speaks Mandarin Chinese, a young woman offers up her minimal-at-best knowledge.


In these moments, we want to be seen as experienced and cognizant of realities beyond our own. We provide even the smallest shred of evidence that we are cultured. In this conversation, it came out that the reason she once knew how to say milk was because it was her allergen, and so was relevant to her own travel experiences. All other words had faded away.


This relatable anecdote begs the question: is our desire to turn our eyes outward truly altruistic? This situation might ask us to question our motives for travel—do we want to be students of the world around us? Or, are we looking to add a level of sophistication to our Instagram feed? Is it all more subconscious than that? Maybe it has nothing to do with travel; maybe anyone would wind up offering this sort of input because, in the end, we all just want to have something to bring to the table. 


Great Falls National Park

Potomac, MD



p 361 from Sonder: The Art of Empathy Through Eavesdropping


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