I first started travelling in order to get away and see the world. That quickly turned into a passion for experiencing different cultures and, more academically, seeking to answer questions related to the distribution of wealth and opportunity in our world.
Later, and continuing every time my ears pop over an ocean, I use my travels and the perspective they provide as a means of thinking about Canada’s place in the world. How are we perceived abroad? How are we dependent on other countries both economically and socially? And how do changes in the global economy, and in the domestic economies of foreign nations, impact our current and future prosperity here at home.
I’ve been exceptionally fortunate (albeit related to being quite hard-working) to travel through over 50 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. From the lights and brand new towers of Shanghai and Gurgaon to the most empty expanses of the world in the Mauritanian sahel and down the rivers of Central Africa. On each trip, I’ve become eternally indebted to individuals who went went out of their way to help.
To get a flavour for the perspective these travels have given me/my family, you can read a travel journal here that my wife and I wrote while travelling across the African continent and the Middle East in 2009. Our trip began in Cape Town, South Africa and saw us travel through twenty countries in Africa before arriving in Morocco. We then skipped across the Mediterranean to Beirut and began a phenomenal trip through the Middle East.
The lessons, perspectives and insights that a decade of travel around the world has given me are integral to my thinking about Canada, but also about our collective future as a global society where it’s increasingly impossible to disconnect what happens here and abroad.
As Nobel prize winning French author André Gide once wrote, “On ne découvre pas de terre nouvelle sans consentir à perdre de vue, d’abord et longtemps, tout rivage/One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight, for a very long time, of the shore.”
I’d add to that quote that one doesn’t properly understand the shore without learning about what lies beyond the ocean.