Crossing the Globe


Japan and Globaligration

Into the Hill Tribes of Vietnam

Ali and Me

Return To Sender

Yo Estoy Aqui

There and Back

Open Letter

Crossing the Globe

Julian Bailey

During the last one hundred days, I have spent my life crossing the globe. This journey has been a voyage of exploration, knowledge, and self-growth that has taught me to look at the world from a new perspective, in a new dimension. Having the opportunity to explore ten different countries has given me the ability to reflect on those adventures and compare differences between environment, religion, and culture.

For one of my classes during Semester at Sea, I have been studying different migration and culture topics for each of these countries. With a combination of field and historical research, and exploration I have concentrated on two regions of the globe to compare migratory patterns and how they contribute to shaping and globalizing the world. I have taken my experiences from Vietnam, and Egypt, two contrasting countries where I feel I was able to most closely interact with their culture regarding these topics.

There are several reasons why I chose to compare these two countries to shape my analysis of crossing the globe. In Vietnam I had the chance to experience first hand a culture that had migrated to the hillside of the Vietnam during the 19th and 20th centuries. I had the opportunity to spend two nights in the stilted dwellings of the White Thai Hill Tribe in the northern mountainous regions of Vietnam. During those two days, I was exposed to age-old practices that have managed to keep this small culture separate from their surrounding influences. After returning to Hanoi, I visited the Museum of Ethnography to find out more information about the Tribe. To this date, there is little published information about this specific tribe and their settlement in Vietnam. During my visit however, I learned that from the foreigners eye, it is near impossible to detect the differences between the Thai and Vietnamese, however I was shown different. I had a rare experience where I got to witness a traditional funeral of a member of the White Thai Hill Tribe. It consisted of a single file line of marching mourners who carried torches of fire down a dirt road. I was told the march was to symbolize the path of his entrance into life and his departure. From the food they eat to clothes they wear, and living arrangements to funerary practice, I was enlighten by peoples of an ancient tribe and the way their traditions have remained at the forefront of their lives to this day. 

click here for more information regarding my experiences in Vietnam.

In contrast to my experience with the Hill Tribe, I focussed on a more localized form of migration in Egypt. I had the opportunity to talk to a Cairo native by the name of Mohammed Ali, about his experiences living in Egypt. As a 53 year old man, he remembers when President Sadat relocated Cairo’s working class to the outskirts of the city. This was an attempt to “promote his open door policy and to construct a ‘modern’ capital that would meet the demands of tourists and transnational business.” For the Cairo working class however, this introduced the concept of commuting to their workplace which sparked Mohammed's desire to migrate to other parts of the country. As the commute grew more expensive, and the city’s pollution grew, Mohammed’s dream of leaving Cairo strengthened. Throughout our conversation, I learned about a common dream that many of the Cairo working-class have, to leave the city. The only reason Mohammed stays in Cairo is because he believes the Government doesn’t create enough jobs outside of the city for him to be able to leave. “Upper Egypt, perhaps the countryside” is what he said to me when explaining his desires, and maybe on day in his future retirement, he will be able to. It was a wonderful experience to have an intimate conversation with an educated Egyptian man about his life, accomplishments, and dreams.

click here for more information regarding my experiences in Egypt

Throughout my experiences with people from very different cultures, I learned a thing or two about migration. Whether it was in ancient Vietnam, where the Thai once fled to escape war, or modern day Cairo, where the hustle, bustle, and pollution grow tired on someone like Mohammed, migration exists all over the globe. On two very different accounts, I was exposed to migration in vastly different parts of the world. In nearly every country visited on this voyage, signs of migration surrounded us everywhere, whether we knew it or not. After training our senses during the last 100 days to investigate, observe, and listen to signs of migration, I can only imagine what my future travels may reveal about the rest of the world. In contributing to globalization, the increasing accessibility for people to move around the globe is bringing the global community closer to one another. Studying migration has helped me understand intentions of different cultures and how it relates to religion, ethnography, and geography.

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