Our group had a beautiful circle discussion about respect one of the evenings. We all had it on our minds, but no one wanted to be “that person”. Finally, someone said it. We were being too noisy at inappropriate times.
Project World School does a wonderful job of allowing people to truly be their authentic selves. If it means talking through every lecture, so be it. If it means listening and trying to converse with the speaker afterwards, so be it. On this particular retreat, we were a group of noisy people. Mud stomping and song singing were totally irresistible; and of course, there was and is nothing wrong with those activities. We loved them! The people around us that joined in loved them! But we started to notice the annoyance and distaste people started showing us after awhile. We noticed it from the other visitors, to whom we turned our noses up due to their touristy tendencies at first. They were wearing slacks in the Amazon! But we got it, they paid just as much as we did, and they deserved the vacation of their dreams just as much as we did.
It was a big moment of realization for the group as a whole on what it is to be “those tourists” and a lot of it has to do with respect. Respect for the people we are visiting, the land, the people we are with, and the culture we are experiencing. Sometimes it means silence, sometimes it means total participation and trust, and other times it means stepping out if you’re uncomfortable. We spent a great deal of time listening after that. We listened to our guides, we listened to nature, we listened to ourselves. We found a higher respect for all that was around us.