This post was written by explorer, social entrepreneur, and environmental advocate Philippe Cousteau. Philippe co-founded EarthEcho International with his sister Alexandra with the purpose of empowering youth “to take action that restores and protects our water planet.”
Leaving the house in the morning I have a simple check list that usually starts, in order of importance, with my smart phone, tablet or laptop, wallet, and my keys. Okay, sometimes I forget a few things on my list. If I only leave the house with my phone, I am pretty much set for the day with work, schedule, entertainment, and access to my friends, family, and team anywhere in the world. I am connected; the world is in my hands… well, sort of. And then I remember something my grandfather Jacques Cousteau used to tell me – he firmly believed the only way to appreciate the amazing world we live in is to experience it firsthand, whenever and however we are able to do so. Today we all face a new and exciting dynamic – how do we balance the access and convenience of technology with hands-on experiences and relationships with nature that inspire action and change? Basically it is not about disconnecting; it is about making room in our busy lives for a deeper connection.
The good news is we do not have to give up one to achieve the other. From planning trips to coordinating a night out with friends, most of us have integrated our virtual and real worlds to some extent or another. I was reminded how powerful finding a balance between these two worlds can be through my work with USA Pavilion (www.pavilion2012.org) during Expo 2012 The Living Ocean and Coast in Yeosu, Republic of Korea. Many Global Conversations followers may be familiar with the forty American college students who represented the United States during the Expo as Student Ambassadors. They shared their experiences in people-to-people diplomacy with visitors from Korea and around the globe through blogs and social media platforms on a daily basis. However it was the beach cleanups, trips to community centers, schools, and daily interactions with thousands of visitors that left a lasting impact on the Student Ambassadors and the people they met. These experiences formed friendships, helped strengthen a bond between the people of two nations, and aided local communities through the Student Ambassadors’ volunteer efforts.
For me, the true adventure starts when we make the shift to that deeper connection of real world experiences and relationships. Passports, lengthy travel or the latest smart-tech not required; some of the most rewarding experiences can happen in your own backyard. Taking time out to go on a hike and reconnect with nature, volunteering with a nonprofit organization to work on community project, or getting a group of friends together to help a neighbor in need can be everyday adventures with positive impact.
I like to think of it this way – technology has the power
to inspire and engage; experiences have the power to change our world. They both have a place in our lives; it is just a matter of finding a balance that keeps you connected online and off.
This entry reflects the author’s personal judgments and does not represent the views of the United States Government or the Department of State.