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Open Letter

To Whom This May Concern,
      First, I just want to say that this trip has been beyond incredible and that I am without a doubt completely changed and fully affected by what I have seen and been through thus far. It is as though I have been repeatedly ripped apart and then sown back together and made stronger by each visit to these countries and to even begin to try and explain the feelings that they have provoked within me would be a sheer impossibility.
      There is nothing that can describe the way it feels to be such an obvious outsider in such homogeneous cultures as the ones we have been to. To be so blatantly stared at with such intrigue, suspicion, and bewilderment by everyone, and then to be able to instantly provoke an enormous smile out of them just by delivering a respectful nod, a wave and a warm hearted smile. It is so empowering to know that you have such an large effect on people's perceptions of Americans, and that you are truly a kind of ambassador for America itself. So many of these cultures love to emulate the U.S. in one way or another, whether it's expressed through their dress, knowledge of our language, or simply through their admiration of our self-proclaimed global "superiority". To know that our presence is so influential carries with it a responsibility that I totally enjoy having and I only wish more people could have the opportunity to know and understand what that's really about.
      My only advice with regard to travel in foreign places is to always have a positive attitude and an open mind. If you constantly possesses this type of outlook you will never find yourself dissapointed or upset because something has gone wrong or not the way you planned. These things happen with travel in exotic lands and are part of the unpredictable journey, so if one remains optimistic at all times then an unfortunate incident can almost always be seen as an opportunity to meet someone new or stumble upon an undiscovered location. Be willing to travel with an open heart and mind and an enormous smile and you will undoubtedly discover that the world is full of beautiful people who would love to interact and share their culture with you.
                                              Ryan Harper

"The object of foreign travel is not to step foot on foreign land,
but to step foot on one's own land
and feel as though it is foreign."

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