What is a Walkabout?
According to Wikipedia, “In Australian Aboriginal society, Walkabout is a rite of passage during which males undergo a journey during adolescence, typically ages 10 to 16, and live in the wilderness for a period as long as six months to make the spiritual and traditional transition into manhood“.
And while it seems that the term, in Australian culture, has some derogatory references related to mindless wandering, I am using it to speak to the purposeful journey of discovery that I am working towards with Walk the Pla.net. It is about a journey to both find oneʻs true self and to create a positive impact on the world around us.
But … really. What is a Walkabout??
In the context of Walk the Pla.net, a Walkabout is a 12 to 36-month project to both get to know a new place, but learn the local language, culture and contribute to the community. Each Walkabout has four parts:
- Location: Getting to know a place like a local
- Language: Becoming comfortable speaking in the language
- Art: Deepening the experience by learning a cultural art
- Service: Contributing to the local community
Here are some descriptions of how each works:
Location (i.e “Minimalist Travel”)
My style of travel is extended stays with minimal gear to explore awesome locales. So, for each location Iʻll be sharing how I travel, what I take, where I go, and what you can do. Here are some examples of what I might cover:
- How to pack a single bag for a trip around the world in all types of climates.
- How to explore a new location and get to know the lay of the land.
- Local methods of transportation, and paying less to see more.
- Where to walk and hike to see the best places a car canʻt take you.
- Where to stay when youʻre in a new place.
- Plus, guides on the various places I visit.
- Oh! And information on the best places to work remotely, whether they are co-working spaces, coffee shops, or the local library.
It can be frustrating to visit a new country and not have any idea what anyone is saying. You canʻt order food, or buy a train ticket, or even figure out how to get from A to B.
Whenever I travel to a new location I make an effort to pick up at least a little bit of the language so I can get around. And for a short trip, a few phrases and words can make a huge difference.
But with a Pla.net Walking journey, Iʻve found that it is helpful to take things to the next level. Most of these journeys span at least a year or two, which means working to become at least conversationally comfortable in the local language.
So, over time Iʻve come up with several methods for learning languages as quickly as possible so that communication becomes less of an issue.
Now, there is no “language learning gene”, but it is true that some people are more naturally adept at picking up new languages (my wife is one of those people). But that doesnʻt imply that the rest of us canʻt learn a new language.
Far from it. All it means is that, if you want to learn a new language, you just need to have specific strategies to make things less frustrating.
So, as part of my Pla.net Walking journeys, I will be sharing both how I learn to speak a new language, give you a look at my progress and level checks, and explore different methods and see how they work.
Just to explain my language goals, it is to become “conversationally comfortable”, not “fluent”. Fluency is actually sort of a spectrum more than a specific destination. In fact what I call conversationally comfortable someone else might consider fluent. Itʻs really just semantics and subjective interpretation.
But my goal is to be able to be dropped in a community that speaks the language and not worry about how I will get along. The focus is more on the word “comfortable” than “conversational”. :-)
The study of a cultural art is, to me, a way to add a whole new dimension to global travel.
If going to a place is the first dimension, and learning the language is the second dimension, then studying a cultural art form is the 3rd dimension that fleshes out a deeper understanding and relationship with the people of that location.
Iʻm a big proponent of skill development, and the arts. And so the study and practice of a cultural art is, to me, a way to combine these two things together.
Whether it is a local style of dance, learning a new musical instrument, singing a traditional song, practicing a unique martial art, or discovering a new visual art form, not only does the practice and study build your own character and appreciation for the local culture, it is also an excellent way to learn and practice the local language.
Plus, while Iʻm on these skill journeys, Iʻll share what I learn with you so you can share a lot of time and energy off your own study of these art forms.
This page just launched, but keep your eyes peeled here as I explore and learn how people around the world express their thoughts, spirituality and emotion through unique forms of art.
Traveling is great, and learning to speak to local people and develop an understanding of their culture through the arts is meaningful, but those are all very “me-centric” activities. Youʻre going, learning and taking knowledge for yourself.
But how does that contribute to the well-being of that community?
As a Bahá’í, service to the community is a vital part of how we express our spirituality. It is often how we express the Bahá’í teachings through practical action.
That is why one of the components of my Pla.net Walking journeys is to volunteer my time and energy to help the communities I visit.
This can take many forms. Maybe Iʻm building a website for a local non-profit. Or maybe Iʻm helping with local children or junior youth activities. Or perhaps Iʻm volunteering at a food bank. Each location will provide unique opportunities, and part of what will make the experience of visiting a community even more special, is to help make it a better place.
As I explore my service to local communities, I will share what I learn and how I help with all of you. So, hopefully, when you go out on your own Pla.net Walking journey, you might consider helping out too.
And, who knows? If everyone who travels does a bit to make the world a better place, then this planet just might become even more amazing!
Future Potential Walkabouts
There are quick links above for two of my walkabouts. I have a lot of places Iʻm excited to visit in the future. Here are just a few ideas that I might explore …
- Spain :: Spanish | Flamenco Guitar
- Japan :: Japanese | Calligraphy
- Finland :: Finnish | Nordic Walking or Cross-Country Skiing
- Tanzania :: Swahili | Makonde Wood Sculptures
- Chile :: Spanish | Chilean Cooking
- India :: Hindi | Bollywood Dance
- Italy :: Italian | Painting
- Philippines :: Tagalog | Escrima/Kali (Martial Arts)
- And soooo many more …
Community Service is one of those things you have to approach on the ground with the advice and counsel of people in that community.