Report Highlights President Obama As The Curious Traveler
PHOTO: President Barack Obama in 2008. (Photo courtesy Flickr/dcblog)
Travel invigorates the soul and replenishes curiosity and our need to discover. So, it was nice to hear that President Barack Obama is the kind of person who embraces the very nature of travel when he has been afforded the opportunity during his eight-year presidency.
That is what Michael D. Shear of the New York Times reports on as he looks at various presidents and their penchant for travel.
Shear spoke with presidential historian Jon Meacham who explained that Obama’s enthusiasm for travel rivals another past president: “It’s a Jeffersonian impulse (A reference to Thomas Jefferson). He’s intellectually curious. He’s trying to do something that’s incredibly difficult. He’s trying to replenish his intellectual capital in a job that really just demands expenditure of that resource.”
As mentioned, one of the president’s more recent excursions was his stop in Vietnam to dine with Anthony Bourdain. The AP caught the ensuing melee of locals cheering Obama on as he left the location:
Bourdain spoke with Anderson Cooper about the episode and offered, “I’ve never seen a guy enjoy a cold beer and a low plastic stool more than President Obama, by the way,” furthering the notion that the world leader really savors the moments when he can immerse himself in the local culture and enjoy the simple joys in life.
As the report notes, there is bound to be, and is, disapproval from the president’s critics who believe such trips are unnecessary.
Some, however, see a tremendous value in seeing a world leader immerse himself in other cultures and illustrate his own immense curiosity about the rest of the world.
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Meachem continues, bringing that sentiment full circle: “Jefferson had this incredible sense of curiosity. He wanted to be a kind of conveyor belt of culture. He saw tourism as, I suspect, the way the president does: widening the aperture of experience and learning as much as possible.”
The NY Times quotes White House communications director Liz Allen who attempts to assuage detractors who take umbrage with a president with wanderlust: “These moments allow the president to highlight issues he cares about by experiencing them firsthand. Seeing a melting glacier in Alaska or walking the trails of our national parks really drives home the impact of climate change and importance of conserving our lands and waters.”
Perhaps further to that, is a spotlight on how important and immensely valuable it can be to engage other parts of the world and to build the reservoirs of empathy and context before we return home.
We are far more interesting, engaged and kind people when we come home with a renewed sense of how amazing this planet of ours can be.
We take far more away from a café in Paris than a baguette, or the taste of noodles from a diner in Vietnam. We take away an experience that will enrich our lives for however long we choose to stay curious.
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