08 Jan Worldschooling & Ethics – Privilege
Being able to travel is a privilege in it’s own right, and this is something that should never be forgotten when worldschooling.
Worldschooling and Privilege
As worldschoolers who travel, we all need to be aware of our privilege in order to be out in the world in a respectful manner.
As people who come from a more developed nation, there’s an implied, inherent wealth when we travel abroad. This is a privilege not to be overlooked, as many of the people in our host countries do not have the opportunity or the ability to choose this lifestyle. What we can do, however, is to be intentional and aware about where our money winds up and make sure that it goes into the hands of the people, instead of letting it fall into the grasp of international corporations.
Our own filters or worldviews are just that, our own, and we must understand they may not always align with the communities in our host countries. We also have the responsibility as worldschoolers to be aware of the history of colonialism, particularly in the countries you wish to visit. There are some very tough questions we must ask ourselves, but the accountability is ours to carry along side the privilege of traveling.
As worldschoolers, there are a few things we need to keep in mind. We must keep our criticisms of other cultural traditions in check. We have to remember, we are the outsiders and have no right to shame, criticize or judge the traditions, rites and practices of other cultures. We each come from a variety of backgrounds and most of us travel to countries with different worldviews as a way to learn and expand our awareness of the world around us. If we are not conscious about it, it’s easy to run another culture’s traditions through our own filters, positions and worldviews and judge them based on our own values.
However, we cannot apply the same level of political correctness we may have standardized in our own countries to citizens of other nations. In other words, we must not process situations through our American filters, no matter how good our intentions are. If we decide that a certain ceremony, tradition or ritual is not acceptable in our own country, we cannot expect other cultures to perceive the same standards, nor should we shame them for their beliefs.
Acknowledging white privilege does not mean that we, as white Americans never struggle with anything. What it does mean is that upon birth we were granted a set of characteristics that gave us leverage in many aspects both within the US and in many places abroad. Being white and American has granted us many privileges, especially with regards to ease of travel.
It’s just the truth that my son and I will likely never be pulled aside and additionally searched when going through security due to our skin color, or automatically assumed that we are criminals, problematic or even terrorists. We will likely never be asked to get out of a car by police in the US, and questioned why we are driving in a nice area in either our home country or when traveling abroad.
As white privileged worldschoolers, we need to acknowledge that our ability to worldschool isn’t always the same for communities of color, and it isn’t just the economic reasons that hold people back. There’s also racial implications too, from the economic and legal hoops one needs to jump through to apply for travel documents to the social beliefs that communities of color should fight to create a stable home and that worldschooling is contrary to that belief. We need to acknowledge that often white privilege allows worldschoolers to explore the world safely and comfortably, and that may not necessarily be true for all worldschoolers.
We also understand that the ability to travel is not equal. Everybody here has access to an American or Canadian passport, and In that sense, we’re all privileged, as we’re able to access places that a Peruvian or a Cambodian (for instance) might never be able to see.
We include this here because we want to change the narrative. We urge white worldschoolers to identify and deal with their privilege. We include this here because we want to work towards equity and equal access for ALL worldschoolers.
When traveling abroad, it’s important to understand our own role in the big picture. Recognizing that our worldviews and perspectives are not the only way to see the world and educating ourselves on our own national history are just a few ways that we can better understand our role in the world as a whole.