The world is an infinite classroom. There is no doubt to me that teachers are everywhere in the world. I do not mean those certified teachers, but I refer to those war survivors, locals who have experienced it all, tour guides, and even fellow travelers. I have learned more history and culture in a few days traveling than I ever will being stuck in a classroom.
Traveling made me feel how ignorant I was. It made me feel that I have lived in a bubble my whole life in my comfort zones. The world seems so big and you don’t experience those conflicts yourselves, but there is always some sort of conflict or war going on. My visit to the Balkans, especially Bosnia and Hercegovina was an eye opener. My hostel provided war tours around Mostar, BiH led by a war survivor. He was just 17 at the time war broke out among numerous ethnic groups with different religious beliefs – Serbian Orthodox, Bosnian Croat Catholic, and Bosnian Muslim. He was too young to fight in the front line, so his job was to navigate the streets to deliver war supplies to the front line. Half of his childhood friends had perished in the war and he dug graves for them at night to avoid getting shot. Fortresses and military bunkers still remain on the hills. Even more astounding are the active landmines and bullet shells still present in the fields. Mostar translates to “the Bridge Keeper,” but the war destructed the bridge that stood for more than 400 years. Though the war ended 23 years ago, families are still recovering and infrastructures are being rebuilt. Even in 2018, Bosnian Croats still have a dream that one day, the west side of Mostar will become Croatia. As said by the war survivor, “the west side is not mine … I don’t know that place.” However, what stood out and amazed me is their ability to forgive, but never to forget.
The history courses I have taken in high school and university only covered wars the United States were involved in or wars of the Western World. It’s a shame that history from some parts of the world are ignored, but understandable that no one can ever cover every single event in history. Therefore, traveling allows you to learn about what you wouldn’t learn in class. Traveling allows you to hear personal experiences, and most importantly, they are primary sources. The world is an open textbook, so don’t confine yourselves to the comfort of your bubble. I have also realized how important it is to keep up with current events around the war.