The fact that certain individuals can live in the United States of America, the very embodiment of multiculturalism, and still be so intolerant of others baffles me every day. People are not like their stereotypes in any way because everyone is an original who can do extraordinary things and defy expectations.
I come from the kind of family where every once in a while, around the holidays, someone will say something incredibly offensive and stereotypical about a certain racial or cultural group. However, after obtaining a passport and visiting more than 50 countries across 6 continents, I saw firsthand that preconceived notions and racist comments are frequently unfounded.
Even though one uncle and two cousins of mine were often putting down other people’s cultures, some of my closest friends and most interesting acquaintances happen to be members of those very cultures. Thankfully, I learned early on to look past people’s skin colour, history, and current difficulties and focus on the merits of their character, achievements, and potential.
Each of us has trials and tribulations, faces obstacles and challenges, and has both good and terrible days. One’s humanity is something that affects everyone. Consequently, it seems cruel and unjust to write off a whole group of individuals because of a singular incidence, which occurs with equal frequency across all groups of people.
I loved sleeping in a tent for three months while exploring “the bush” of war-torn east Africa and passing through towns whose residents had never before seen a white man. Imagine experiencing the opposite of culture shock and learning firsthand what it is like to be a marginalised group. Even so, I learned a lot and had a fantastic time.
Despite living on a predominantly black continent, the white African organiser who organised my vacation was a bit prejudiced. My Malawian, Mozambican, and Tanzanian pals and I spent some time alone in the “bush.”
Remarkably, I still recall a few lines in Che-chewah (the language of Malawi) and a certain song in Portuguese (the language of Mozambique).
They were a precious, generous, and welcoming people. My first trip into “the bush,” which back then comprised of mud cottages and sparse flora due to a drought, was an unforgettable experience. When the truck I was in stopped at a village market, we all got off to use the restroom and then go shopping for refreshments.
It seemed like all the people had stopped what they were doing and were staring at me, yelling, “Mzungu! Mzungu!” Their expressions of wonder, confusion, and astonishment made me feel like an animal on display at the zoo.
Over a hundred curious locals gathered around me in a matter of minutes to observe my every action. So, naturally, I jumped at the chance to network and gain favour with the masses. I quickly grabbed my translator, spoke encouraging words to brighten their spirits, and professed my love before having to leave them behind as we continued on our journey.
I have grown accustomed to, and even fond of, bridging cultural divides and venturing fearlessly into the unknown. Consequently, travelling to a foreign country and engaging in conversation with strangers is something I do fairly naturally. Such happy occasions are what I live for.
Each time I travel, I acquire new knowledge, meet fascinating people, and enjoy unforgettable adventures.
Paul has the ability to enthral his listeners, push them beyond their comfort zones, and ultimately effect positive change in their lives.
Some of the most requested talks by Paul are on the following subjects:
Respect for Difference, Intercultural Communication, and Global Education
Topics: Going Out, Getting Serious, Loving, and Letting Go of Disappointment in Relationships
Improving One’s Profession, Starting a Business, and Adapting to New Circumstances
Food and health; stopping drug abuse; freedom from dependency
Topics include: democracy and foreign policy, nonviolence and peacemaking, author tours and debates.
Twelve of Paul’s books have been published, and two have been shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize.
Paul’s desire to help others has carried him to more than 50 nations and 6 continents.
Paul worked at Ground Zero in New York City during 9/11; helped rebuild a home at the tsunami epicentre; comforted victims of genocide in Rwanda; comforted leaders in East Timor during the war; inspired students in Myanmar; spoke throughout India, China, Pakistan, and parts of Africa where they have never seen a white man.