Heather Otto learned an important lesson in New Zealand simply by looking at a map.
Kalamazoo Center for the Healing Arts
The single greatest education difference I experienced in my semester abroad was not based on the curriculum from my New Zealand school nor the difference in the teachers skills but from opening up a map and America not being placed at the center. As a student in my own country I was always taught from the perspective of being at the center of the map; historically, politically, and culturally. Leaving America as a junior in high school and traveling 9,000 miles gave me the opportunity to be taught from the perspective of another country placing itself at the center of the world map. Though subtle it was profound. As I furthered my education I always considered that each professor would teach from their own perceptions, their own center of the map. It was my job as a student to pursue all perspectives and expand my circle of knowledge. As I look at going back to school I still hold on to the lesson I learned back in high school.
We can all take away something from the lesson that Heather learned. Remember that everyone, both at home and abroad, will be expressing ideas based on their own backgrounds and perspectives. Keep that in mind when you share your own ideas, too.