Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Excuse me, but I'm a stupid American"

I had lunch yesterday with a new friend who used to manage a rock group in the 80's and 90's. We were talking about the subject of cultural intelligence and how it can make a difference in the way we as Americans are accepted when traveling abroad. He shared with me that, on a concert tour of multiple European countries, the band determined to learn at least one phrase in the language of each country they visited:
  "Excuse me, but I'm a stupid American. Can you help me?"

These guys were clearly not stupid -- on the contrary, they were wise enough to put themselves in a position of humility vis-à-vis their hosts. As you can imagine, that opening line was nearly always met with a chuckle, followed by a willingness to engage the visitors and provide information that would help them find their way or understand something about local culture. 

This is one example of how we can slowly but surely turn the tide of how we are viewed by the rest of the world -- one disarming chuckle at a time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The World Is a Book...

WAITING for each of our participants in their London hotel room on our recent tour was a moleskin journal with the following paragraph on the front page:

"The fool wanders; the wise man travels." - Thomas Fuller

These words reflect the philosophy behind the name of our company, World to the Wise. The Proverbs remind us of the importance of seeking wisdom, and much wisdom is to be gained from getting outside one's immediate surroundings. We travel not because we necessarily enjoy lengthy flights or sleeping in strange beds; we travel because we  need to occasionally be shaken from the quasi stupor we can so easily be lulled into in the comfortable familiarity of life in the United States. It is our belief that God has placed something uniquely beautiful in every culture on earth. He loves diversity! And if we don't cultivate curiosity, many riches will pass us by. It is not so much about what we do as how we do it.

Augustine expressed it like this:

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page."

We invite you to stay tuned for announcements of upcoming World to the Wise Cultural Tours -- we've only just begun!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cheap Gas?

The uninitiated could easily be misled by this sign at a Swiss gas station: gas for $1.66 per gallon? Let’s break that down:
First, that’s 1.66 per liter. There are about 3.8 liters in a gallon, so that would be 6.31 per gallon. But then we’re talking Swiss francs, not dollars. 6.31 Swiss francs per gallon would be approximately $5.74 at the current exchange rate – and that rate is more advantageous for the dollar than it’s been in a long time. Gas is one of the very few things that are cheaper in Switzerland than in the rest of Western Europe; for example, in France it’s about $6.68 per gallon right now.

Still wishing you were driving in Europe? This is yet another reason so many Europeans use alternative means of transportation – bicycle, motor scooter, motorcycle, train – and oh yes, feet. Not to mention the near nightmarish difficulty of finding parking in many cities, let alone affordable parking.

Sort of makes us Americans a little slower to complain.