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Davao City, Philippines

Becoming a blessing while travel schooling

November 21, 2019 - Thursday 4:11 AM by Grace Gaston Dousel

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I recently conducted a travel schooling workshop at the Arrows & Quivers Homeschool Hub in Davao City. It was a timely learning session for parent-teachers because homeschooling families usually travel during the holiday season.
In our family’s experience of travel schooling for the past five years, we have learned that going places is also one of the best ways to touch lives and be changed by others for the better. We realized that we are enriched as we reach out to others. Indeed, giving is more blessed than receiving.
Here are ways to bless others along the way:
1. Smile sincerely. We are amazed at how a sincere smile changes everything for another person. We have instructed our children to interact with people by first putting on a smile and a cheerful demeanor. This has blessed people from immigration officers, supermarket cashiers, souvenir stall vendors, hotel receptionists, tour guides, and bus drivers. They have always found it a joy to be around our kids and they say they are nice children. In our travels around Asia, we realize that Filipinos are probably the most cheerful bunch. Many of our Asian friends have affirmed this. When we visited their countries, we noticed that people hardly smile. But when we smile at them first, they somehow couldn’t resist but mirror the cheer!
2. Give a generous tip. We have observed that many of the people we encounter are employees who may not be earning much in a day. Waiters, drivers, bellboys and chamber maids would most likely be getting minimum wage or a contractual salary. It is amazing when you give them an amount they would not expect. Oh, the smile on their faces could not be described! We would like to think that it means having a very good meal for the family the following day.
3. Greet people in the local language. The first thing we do when we get to a place is to find out how to say, “Thank you” and “Good morning/afternoon/evening” in the local language. People are surprised and pleased when they hear their language spoken by a foreigner. They also feel good that we make the effort.
4. Buy from small shops and not bargain. We have made a decision to not bargain when we buy from local farmers or small-scale vendors knowing that this would be their only means of putting food on the table. Perhaps a small key chain worth a dollar would ensure that there is supper for that day. Why should we deprive them of that? If we could not bargain in big malls, then why should we do so in the small stores?
5. Give compliments. Many people do not get appreciated as often as they should. The amount of praise that they get is most likely not commensurate to their hard work. Whenever possible and when we are pleased with the service, we make it a point to fill out a guest feedback form or speak with the manager to make sure that they know the good job that they and their staff are doing. We realize that in the past we would only call their attention when we want to complain about something. We decided to change this practice and call for the manager to affirm them of the good that they do.
6. Be environment conscious. Do not bring home souvenirs such as seashells or a handful of sand. Take only photos if you want to bring with you a remembrance from a beautiful place. Leave only your footprints. Bring your trash with you. Leave a mark on people’s hearts not on walls and rocks. Do not vandalize. Use reusable water bottles and aim for eating food that has lesser packaging. Do not change your hotel sheets and towels daily. You don’t wash your sheets at home everyday anyway.
7. Pray for the people and the place. Visiting places and other countries can make us so self-centered. Since we go for a holiday, we tend to be on the lookout for whatever will be to our comfort and advantage. We thank God when all the vacation plans are going well. We put on our social media accounts all the nice photos that show that we are having a grand time. But we rarely think of blessing the people and the place we are visiting even for a short time by praying for them. How about whispering a short blessing for the local farmers and the kitchen staff who made it possible for you to have sumptuous meals? Or a short prayer for peace in the country so that tourism may bring more job opportunities? Or a wish for good weather conditions so that natural calamities will not disrupt the people’s way of life? Or for people to simply live harmoniously with each other?
Someone once said that giving is healthy for the soul. Being a blessing when you are travel schooling teaches our children how to be good citizens of the world. They learn to become part of a bigger society that spans outside of their little circle of friends. Becoming a blessing makes them understand that traveling is a privilege to make a difference in the lives of others and not just an opportunity for self-enjoyment.