From my first hug (yes, I cringed the fist time I was hugged) to my first beer, from my first political conversation about the French in another language, to my first standing up to defend Americans in a French class bashing them, from the first time I crossed the street when the little man was red and felt the passers by were going to kill me to the first time I was IDed in a US bar, I have many memories of beautiful and awkward times due to a difference in culture, a difference in language, a difference in background. And yet, I always come back to this conclusion, the more I learn, the more I experience, the less I know. You may speak a million languages, or one. You may have lived in a million countries, or never left your hometown. You may be the King of the World, or noone else than yourself. You may...many things, and the rest. It all boils down to one thing. If, at one point, you have not tried to put yourself in somebody else's shoes, and here, mind you, I don't mean thinking for them, but thinking with them; if, at one point, you have not tried being the attacker rather than the defender, or the defender rather than the attacker ; if at one point, you have not tried to turn your words around and said them to yourself, no matter the language, the place, or the status, you will never learn, and never carry your point across.
Life is a highway, American style. With many exits, many crossroads, bridges going under, over, around. But if you fail to read the signs, you will end up in the same place you started from. We may want transparency, communication, understanding, international understanding even. I have learned this one thing, if you don't listen to your neighbour, love them, and allow them once in a while to prove you wrong, you'll never get anywhere.
I am learning. It is hard, difficult and painful at times. It brings many beautiful things also. I will probably never get as far as I wish, but I promise, I am trying.