I’m going to confess something… before I set off to film Global Child Russia there was a tiny part of me that was apprehensive and might I’d say scared to do so. I mean think about it, growing up with American media showing me that Russians were the villains in most movies including Rocky 3 (who can forget Drago), well I think it had sunk into my subconscious. Now, mind you, at that point I’d travelled to many places in the world, but even my own family and a couple of friends raised a cautionary flag. Of course, I used my common sense and the invitation to Moscow from one half Russian friend named Eric that I had met in Sweden while filming there the summer before. I also had my friend Olya who was super Russian but I’d known for years in Miami from my crazy promoting days. Olya insisted that she would be a great co-host and Eric had extended the warmest of invitations. As you can see during the show, not only was everything ok but it’s been one of the best experiences of my life! Even while filming the show and walking around Gorky park I had this realization: politics are politics but people are people… there are good and bad people all around the world, but most people are kind and want the same things we all do: love, peace, safety, success. Most of the time, we actually attract what we believe and embody.
I’ve used that trepidation I had about filming in Russia and the incredible experience afterward to help me along my decision making process since then. When I was about to film in Qatar; again a bit of that fear of the unknown came back! Guess what I did? Yup. I ignored it and moved forward knowing that a stranger is just a friend I haven’t made yet. When we approach people and places with an openness of heart, with respect to their culture and with a smile on our face, I find that most places will welcome us with arms wide open. Fortunately, events such as the world cup that took place in Russia showed the world that those stereotypes were not applicable. I feel that’s one of the greatest honors I have in selecting destinations and creating our travel show: we are global ambassadors. Ambassadors get to both represent their country of origin and also get to be the link between different people and cultures.
At Global Child, we believe that all people from all countries and cultures are unique and that we share way more in common than what sets us apart. It’s interesting that throughout the course of humanity many tragedies have occurred by political groups attempting to separate us through imaginary boundaries and building walls instead of bridges. Some believe it’s ok to separate us by the color of our skin, or by our spiritual beliefs. However, they cannot eliminate the truth that every human has or at least should have somewhere deep inside them that we are all part of the human race and of equal value. Dreams are wonderful when they’re positive, but when they’re not we call them nightmares. When we dare to take on challenges, new experiences and meet new people that might lead us outside of our comfort zones we are taking on the dare of dreaming. As long as we can always remember that we can travel with purpose by connecting and honoring the people and places we visit then we’ll make sure to keep our travel dream a positive reality.
Russia was so wonderful; from the long nights in Moscow dancing with friends to the grandeur and history of Saint Petersburg; all of it was wonderful. Having studied feature film writing in Los Angeles, I often think of why we create movies the way we do and what the world might look like from other perspectives. In this interconnected world, it’s safe to say that as humanity connects more and more, the barriers of what makes us seem different are beginning to fade away. There will always be loud individuals that will try to build walls amongst people because, in the end, they are afraid of true progress. Their fear is a reflection on their own insecurity and brokenness. As for us, I believe that we are to love everyone and we are to actively build bridges with those different from us as we did with our Russian friends. Eric ended up introducing me to his girlfriend Vlada who was amazing and gladly participated in our Global Child experience. I’ve since had about 10 of Eric’s friends spend a new year at my place in Miami dancing with the ocean spreading before us beneath a firework-lit night. My whole Russian experience turned out to be a dream. I hope the next time you’re faced with apprehension about visiting somewhere new, or perhaps sharing meal with a co-worker that has a different skin tone or faith background, remember that people are people and politics are politics. Always no matter what, if we treat others the way we’d want to be treated, more often than not we’ll stay on the right path.