Participating in the world: on finding your advocacy while traveling
This week, I received two e-mails asking for some kind to promote environmental events and they are willing to pay for. The first e-mail was from a student organisation that focuses on Marine Conservation and the second is all about environmental conservation. The second one is a vague proposal about contributing to the well-being of endangered species in Asia.
No, please, don’t think I don’t care about the environment. I have a tree-hugging mother and believe me when I say as a child, I’ve been dragged to many tree-planting-slash-environmental-conservation projects. In fact, where I grew up is one of the thickest forests in the face of the Philippines. One of my best friends is an animal rights advocate and I’ve participated in this endeavour, too. When we were young, we would go grace the high floods of the Philippines to save pets who were left behind by their owners.
At one point or another, I was always involved with something growing up and I noticed the disparity. But what struck me the most is the inconsistency of the activities I was involved in. Do I want to be the person who people often see on the Internet getting involved in so many advocacies?
How I found my advocacy
Sometime in 2013, I was walking in the souks of Marrakesh when a photograph caught my attention: a 15 year old girl was shot by the Taliban because she is fighting for girls to go to school in Pakistan. 15 years old. Shot by a man. A child. Versus a man. For me, it seemed impossible. Why would you shoot a child who wants to go to school? The face of the girl who survived resonates so much power and made me realise the reality of young girls in Pakistan. She entered me.
From that day on, I volunteered to many different endeavours concerning girls education and I never felt happier. More often than not, we involve ourselves in environmental projects because we think that this is what responsible travel is all about. But what if you don’t have strong feelings for planting trees and hugging elephants?
I need to reiterate this – there is nothing wrong with choosing just one. You can always reject things you are not interested in because it is your right to contribute to things you deem yourself fit. More often than not, we feel obligated to play a part in things we think that’s for the best but in reality, we are just making the case worst because we cannot give our 100% to things we don’t have knowledge of.
How to find your advocacy while traveling[us_iconbox icon=”fa-angle-double-right” iconpos=”left” size=”18px” title=”Get involved in multiple advocacies first” title_tag=”h6″]I know I said consistency is the key but let me tell you that I only found my advocacy when I exposed myself to different environments. Accept all the small invitations from friends to plant trees, save stray dogs, bathe elephants, etc because the only way to find out is to try. It will take time to trim down your list but along the way, whatever you have strong feelings for, go for it.[/us_iconbox]
Some things I learned from finding my advocacy while traveling:
- Silence is as bad as approval. I was never in a situation where I forced people to support a cause but what bothers me is when people don’t have opinions about anything. Sure, opinionated people are often labeled conceitedly assertive or arrogant – it’s annoying to listen to them more often than not but I’d rather pay attention to people who have something to say than deal with robots with no feelings. We often excuse ourselves on having opinions about a certain issue because we don’t want to be involved in arguments but this is the way of life. We agree to disagree – we don’t need to have the same opinions because it’s an indication that the world is f*cked. Disagreements and arguments can lead to a pool of ideas. We always blame society of denying us with our rights but the truth is, we deny ourselves with those rights. We live in a free world. Say something.
- Tell your own story. Of course, there comes a time when we want to participate in the conversation but the things we want to say are figments of other people’s stories. We want to sound credible so we create a world where all the things we read on the Internet become ours (but a little tweaked to our individuality). Our life is the broth of our experiences. There is no one in the world that experienced or saw the exact same thing as you. Your story, no matter how irrelevant you think it is matters.
- Go offline. The Internet has been a crucial platform for expressing our feelings and opinions about our advocacies. It has been one of the easiest ways to put the word out but you need to go offline. Go out there. Be in face-to-face conversations with people. Interact. Do some actual work.
- Get ready for haters. A lot of people think that choosing women as my active advocacy means that I am a man-hater. I received a lot of hate comments on this blog but again, this is the result of not having enough information about the issue. In all of my posts, I always clarified that getting involved with women’s issues is not about man-hating but about the idea of women having equal rights with men. Women’s rights is an issue of men, too. I’ve been called names, accused a self-righteous b*tch but I never let it get in the way of sticking to what I chose. Choose your battles. If you fight everything, then your efforts and energies will go to waste. Always remember that person who will go against your opinions will always be there. Because there’s not only one. There will be a lot.
Struggling to find your advocacy while traveling?
What type of advocacy are you interested in? I’d love to know more about you! Leave your insights in the comment box below and help other travelers find their voice and purpose while traveling!