E5CDD50E-DEEB-4923-84D1-796F06D82798@clemson.eduDuring our recent adventures in Kyoto, Japan we visited the Bamboo Grove, one of the most photographed sights in the city. But no picture can capture the feeling of standing in the midst of this sprawling bamboo grove. It creates a sense of serenity and lushness that is quite unlike that of any grove or forest we have visited.

As we walked from the train station in Arashiyama and headed to the Bamboo Grove, two young ladies also headed to the Bamboo Grove joined us and we quickly combined our journeys.  One of our new friends is from Pakistan and the other from Detroit, Michigan.  We learned they are cousins and visiting Kyoto while their father/uncle participated in a medical conference in the city.

Each of our new friends shared that they are in graduate school preparing for careers in medicine and in counseling. We shared some of our recent travel experiences to London, England; Lima, Peru; Washington, DC; and Hawaii and that we have been privileged to get to know many people during our travels.

As we explored the Bamboo Grove, we were amazed at the beauty of the formation of the plants, the quietness of the area and the great views regardless of where we looked.  We also found many areas of common interest including:

  • A focus on family
  • The importance of education
  • Environmental concerns
  • Orientation to good health
  • Love of adventure
  • How young people embrace politics
  • Appreciation for diversity

One particular conversation focused on challenges nations face. We talked about how to engage all citizens to help create a safer, healthier and sustainable social and physical environment.

One of our new friends stated, “Regardless of the political turmoil our home is always our home and a good place to be.”

This led us to reflect on our own sense of home and what is important in our lives.

After some time together our new friends decided to take a different path and explore an area full of monkeys while we headed another direction.

Once we hugged and separated my wife turned to me and remarked, “Hey, I miss them already.”

Seconds later, our new friends came running back and said that they could not leave until we took a group picture to record our time together.

If you have read my earlier blogs you will quickly see that we tend to connect with people during our travels that have many positive impacts on us.  Our time together while short with these two young ladies was fun, informative and inspiring.

The bottom line is that while we individually have different experiences and characteristics we can always easily find much in common.  It is this focus on commonness that makes the world a smaller place, our relationships more meaningful and our experiences more relevant to others and us.

We do not need to travel across the seas and visit a foreign country to find things in common among us. We merely need to focus on those around us and explore common values, interests, expectations and impacts.

Terry Pickeral
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Terry Pickeral

Terry Pickeral, has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations, evaluation and civic development. His commitment is to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens.
Terry Pickeral
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