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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie


 Travel Diary : 100 000 kilometers to share (1st part)

 Imagine, 100 000 kilometers of people met, customs shared, cultural shocks, moments of happiness and also unbearable views. 100 000 kilometers on several continents, in very rich or poor countries, with differences of level of life that can surprise sometimes.

I had the opportunity and the chance to be the witness of a good part of this world…
I have been lucky because, coming from France, I am able to get a passport that allows me to cross almost every border without problem.
I have been lucky because, coming from a country economically more developed, I could save enough money in a short time to be able to travel for a long time in other countries.

Nevertheless, all the information’s that I could gather so far would not be very useful if I was keeping them. Most of the people who helped me, like those 1165 drivers who gave me a ride so far, did it without expecting anything. Their main motivation at this moment was only to give a hand to someone in need. The human nature can show good intentions and the people are sometimes using this good side.

I would have doubted about it before to start my journey.  When I was switching on the television, the title were going one after another:”Famine in Ethiopia, War in Sudan, Guerilla in Nicaragua, Terrorists in Indonesia…”. Apocalyptic sight of a world in crisis?

Then, country after country, I met men and women coming from each of those supposed violent parts of population. Today, my point of view about them would have surprised me if one would have communicated me before to start my voyage: “The great majority of the Men want before everything to leave in peace and to access to their basic needs”.

Those needs are by the way more or less the same everywhere. Of course, the customs are different according to the civilizations and this is that which makes them interesting.  My curiosity helps me to understand the different ways of thinking and acting, which makes me more tolerant.

This is this message that I want to share. Understand your neighbor, be curious. In this way, you will probably avoid conflicts and will spend more good moments than if you were looking for trouble by any way.
I decided to share this message by many different ways from the beginning on my trip. Today however,  I would like to explain to you the time that I spent in the pedagogical centers, that are schools, universities, French alliances, libraries, orphanages or rotary clubs. Everywhere where I can be heard, I try to communicate my view of the real world.

Map of the world of my visits in the pedagogical centers

This allows me to create a winner-winner interaction. This gives to the students the ability to open themselves on the world. For me, I have the opportunity to have a better idea of the local education system.

Thanks to a Powerpoint Slide Show presentation, I usually spend 1 hour to explain my journey with pictures.

Here I am doing a presentation in the Ron Pettigrew School, in Dawson Creek in Canada

For this first part, we are going to take a look on the presentation itself, to the schools and the orphanages.
Let´s have a little tour in this different kind of pedagogical centers.

The presentation

After having several public interactions, I think that my presentation is now available to a larger public, which can be very diverse.

According to the people I am talking to, I have to adapt to them, to be more clear or understandable. Indeed, I am facing sometimes situations where the public has never seen a map of the world. Other times, some of them have received a better education.  

My goal is to open the dialogue on preconceived ideas or to bring knowledge that are not easy to get from the local system of education.

What does it look like ?
I am doing a Powerpoint Slide Show presentation. This means that I am connecting a projector to my computer and I am showing on a screen some maps, pictures or any kind of documents.
I am commenting the visual contents as they are passing on the screen. I try to give life to the journey by vocally instigating the visual projections.

The contents
There are many goals that I try to insert in this presentation. First of all, I try to get the curiosity of the public, so they can be receptive and ready to open their minds. Then, I am looking forward to emphasize some values that I think are important to the understanding of the other.

Stimulating the curiosity of the public
Attracting the attention
-First of all, I am introducing the technical aspect of the journey by explaining how hitchhiking is working. I am detailing the different techniques used by the hitchhikers to stop the vehicles, according to the countries and their cultures.
-I am keeping on in the technical explanation by introducing the different kind of vehicles that I am using. This allows me to introduce myself but also to attract the attention of the people on my project.
Indeed, that makes them often laughing to see me on a donkey, but then they are usually readier to listen to me.

To keep them focus
-With any kind of public, it seems to me important to keep them focus by constantly throwing interesting information in the presentation.
I try to stimulate their knowledge by integrating some mini-games in my speech. For example, I try to open their mind on the world heritage, by showing them pictures of some places or monuments. In the same idea, I am ending this mini-game by opening on some discusses about the local heritage or touristic attraction.
How could we emphasize the place where we are? In what a foreigner could be interested in here?
-I also use a lot of maps to try to give a better geographic understanding of our planet.

Communicating some values
Curiosity, open-mindedness, tolerance, perseverance.
I could say that my presentation is turning around those four big values that I find important.
I try to communicate them through examples and also little exercises, that are as I said helping to keep the public focused.

After the technical explanation of this world tour by hitchhiking, I am coming to the motivations that led me to start this journey. The main motivation is indeed curiosity. I am developing a little bit on this topic.

After having talked about the different customs in different countries, I insist on the fact that the difference is not to be put on a vertical scale. Difference itself is an asset. I try indeed to value each custom or way of life by detailing a little some of them.
I am also talking here about communication. The importance to learn languages to understand and be understood.

Open mindedness
The  open-mindedness is a value I like to keep explaining during the whole presentation.  Indeed, it is the key for the accomplishment of this journey. At the roundabout between curiosity and tolerance, I try to explain this value with my attitude, with the pictures I am showing and talking about.

To be patient and perseverant are surely values that every hitchhiker has.  You need to keep smiling, to be  calm et to keep doing it if you want to find your next vehicle.
Also, you need to believe enough in your dream to be able to go through every difficulties that, without perseverance, would be barriers impossible to cross.
 I also try to explain this value in my presentation.

I am concluding on some paradoxes and big issues on the topics of misery, pollution and also education.

The schools and orphanages
I noticed that education could bring solutions. Unfortunately, it can also be the source of many problems if this one is neglected.
Let´s have a look on the schools and orphanages I have visited so far in this world tour. You will have indeed the possibility to see the differences of the level of education in many countries.

As a good way to start a pedagogical project, I left for my trip from the « Clos Herbert School » in Caen in France.
The level of education in France seems to be quite good if we compare with other countries. Once again, of course, there are differences between the richest and the poorest, but I don´t think that they are as important as the one we can find in North America for example.

The day I left for my journey from the “Clos Herbert School” in Caen in France

I have visited many African schools and it has been important moments of my journey. As you can guess, the chances to get a good education are pretty low. There is almost no basic material, the teachers are not qualified, the classes are overcrowded and the children are let on their side.
In Tanzania, I remember that I have visited schools where each teacher had to take care of more than 150 students per class…
The children can´t be totally concentrated and they couldn´t remember many things from what they were supposed to learn. When I stayed in the Hisani orphanage in the town of Mwanza in Tanzania, I was trying to help those children to understand the lessons they were supposed to have learned during the day.

The children of the Hisani orphanage

In Sudan, I had the opportunity to visit a school for women. This school was localized in the countryside of a third world country. I was indeed half-surprised to see in what kind of building the teachers were holding the classes.

A shelter used as a classroom, in the village of Doka in Sudan

Here is a class for girls, inside the best of the buildings there

North America
From Africa to North America, there is only an ocean that we cross. However, the biggest step that I noticed was the difference of level of development between the two continents.
Of course there are differences between the richest and the poorest. The acknowledgment of the level of education depends a lot of the money spent in it.

Here is a school from a popular area in Minneapolis in the United States, that was by the way welcoming an important community of Somali politic refugees

Here is a school in Sackville, in New Brunswick in Canada. This school was in a rural area. We are very far from what we had seen in Sudan.  The material is better, the teachers well prepared and the system is just much more ready to help the students.

The students had also already seen a map of the world, which was not always the case in some African schools.

Other fact. I remember that  I met a traveler in the beginning of my journey. This one had shown me a map of the United States after that Georges Bush had been elected. In red, we could see the states that had voted republican (the party of Bush) and in blue the democrats.  We know that Georges W. Bush wasn´t really known for his peaceful diplomatic relations.

Here is this map today, after the elections of Obama

Let´s see if the mentalities have changed today, as Barack Obama is in charge. When we look at the map of the United States, we can notice that all the presentations I have done in this country have happened on the west coast of on the east coast… and especially in the states ran by democrats. I absolutely didn´t choose the places where I could publically interact, as I offered to do my presentations as much in the republicans States as in the democrats States.  

The map of my presentations in the American schools

I am a little bit disappointed to not have been able to share my experience in those places. Indeed, their lack of interest towards my project doesn´t help me to believe that they will be more interested in the culture of population coming from Latin America or Middle East for example… Which was maybe one of the reasons why Bush has been elected.
This is by choosing the information  that can come to us that we are becoming less open-minded, less curious and then less tolerant…

Latin and south America
Let´s go back to a part of the world where some of the countries can be considered as belonging to the Third World.
Latin America helped me to meet some young people very curious and socially open. Like many kids on this planet, they wanted to know on which world they were living. I would even say that they had surely a better idea of the world than there North American neighbors.  The map of the world seemed something they already knew a little. Indeed, I realized that they were more able to tell me where the monuments that I was showing during my presentation were. In North America, I met people indicating me Ivory Coast in South America for example…  However, I am only comparing schools with similar level of education.

Here I am in a school in Copiapo in Chile

Of course, there are some huge differences of incomes, resources, between the cities and the countryside, even between different countries of South America. Chile has a better education to offer than in Nicaragua, Bolivia or Ecuador.
I have visited for example a foundation in Machachi in Ecuador, that was helping the children to get a better education.

In Machachi in Ecuador, in the foundation Martha Estrella, I was helping this kid to localized some countries in our planet.

This community of natives didn´t have the access to a very high level of education. The foundation was here to fulfill the lack.

In the same country, in the city of Guayaquil, I had the opportunity to make a presentation in a catholic school for girls. Some people informed me then that this school was the one that was offering the best education in the city. Indeed, the means available were much more important than the ones in the rural area of Machachi.

The Inmaculada School in Guayaquil in Ecuador


Finally, there are very big differences of education between continents, countries, rural areas, urban areas and even inside those same urban areas. Of course, the education is much more limited in the rural areas of countries of Central Africa than others in North Americans Provinces.
The only common point that I noticed was the curiosity of the children. I think that bringing an alternative point of view of this world can help them to question more. I hope it will help them to be more open and more tolerant toward the other… Even if this one is living on the other side of this planet.
We are living on the same world and the actions that some of us have can have consequences on the some others.  My goal, when I am visiting those pedagogical centers, is to awake their conscience on the existence of this “other”…

In this second part, we will see how some people are acting to create a maximum of positive interactions. We will go in the French Alliances and the Rotary Clubs.

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