Breaking Down Barriers One Smile at a Time

I don’t know this woman but I love her. Truly. With all my heart.

I stare at her and I swear, I can feel her compassion. Her gentle soul. Her sweet and giving nature.

Her name is Pramila. My son, Campbell, has his arm around her and tells me she may be the nicest person he’s ever met. Her sister, too, named Santa. How perfect is that?

THIS is why I’m so keen on gap years.

Campbell traded his freshman college dorm experience for living and working and traveling to faraway places to open his mind and heart in a way that most 18 year olds don’t choose. Hands on. All in. Defenses down.

This year will ground him and humble him and teach him things that will stay with him for life. Experiences that will reside deep in his soul and bubble to the surface when he least expects it.

I believe it will make him a more interesting person.

A more empathetic person.

I know his belief system will bust wide open and new and challenging thoughts will run through his mind.

Parents, we’re raising little people into adults who will some day run our governments and our businesses. They will have families of their own.

My hope is that with each child who steps away from home and into a gap year, they check their egos at the door and learn early on how to see others. Truly. SEE. Them. Hear their stories. Learn.

There is so much to do in this world. So many people need a helping hand. A kind gesture. Assurance they are being seen and heard.

I’m banking on gap years giving kids a heaping dose of reality, too. The world shouldn’t revolve around their wants and needs. They were given a golden ticket when they were born in a democratic, free society.

Our world is beautiful and diverse and full of potential. Young people have so much personal passion and desire to do something worthwhile. But our global community could use a lot more people excited to reach out and invest in each other’s futures.  To think of the collective, and the individual role we play in making that stronger.

To walk in someone else’s shoes is to understand them a little bit better. It’s a good starting point to breaking down barriers.

Ask questions. Find common truths. Share a smile.

Like Pramila’s.

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Karen FahleComment