For a long while I’ve felt like traveling well begins at home. If we don’t test ourselves by trying new things near our nests, say visiting a different neighborhood than our own, how will we find our way in a new country? If we don’t try new foods and different ingredients how will we relish culturally different meals as we travel? If we don’t respect people who look and talk differently than we do, how will we ever connect with people we meet when we’re far from our home turf and look very different to them? The questions go on and on. It’s part of the reason I was so intrigued by Damon Dominique’s new book, You Are A Global Citizen, and that I drove two hours from home to see him speak in Los Angeles.
I wasn’t disappointed and I was far from my usual crowd. Most everyone in the room, packed with eager Damon fans, was vastly younger than me. I got over it as they were kind and welcoming. The evening was a learning experience on so many levels and Damon was refreshing, professional, and connected easily with his audience.
Here’s a short glimpse from Damon’s Book Signing in Los Angeles:
He emerged from the back of the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Hollywood and walked, nay sashayed, to the front of the room. It was one of the last nights of his book tour (he told us about the invisible fatigue.) As a speaker and vlogger (over 22 million views and 400k subscribers on YouTube for one social!) he knows how to connect and it works. When he stumbled on a word or idea and cracked himself up – the laughter was genuine, as it was from the audience. The questions after his reading were sincere and thoughtful.
A chunk of his talk centered on having international relationships and why”It’s so much easier to fall in love with an American.” He found out the hard way that “Your life gets really complicated when you love someone from another country.” And he spoke about the phenomenon of realizing what marks us as Americans. He loves what makes us unique saying that we’re genuinely friendly people and happy-go-lucky. “Yet it’s a stroke of chance that has shaped everything from the rights we have to the image others around the world already have of us, to what we have grown to like.”
The first step in becoming a global citizen is to always maintain a childlike wonder about the world around you.
He goes deeper asking burgeoning global citizens to, “understand that the entire reason you are now aware of the preferences in the culture you did adopt is because at one point you were curious about life’s happenings around you and (were) willing enough to risk not liking something for the sake of liking something.” The book is full of questions and in his final note he clarifies, “Your behavior and current outlook of the world could have been influenced solely by the culture in which you happened to be born, and equally to what extent these either hinder or further you in the direction you want to go from here.”
The book is a ‘guided journal for the culturally curious’ through three chapters: Origins, Internal (such as Passions and Interests,) and External (such as Politics, Money and Career.)
Global Citizen Tips too.
Get out of the ‘everyone’s been here’ mindset. There’s a reason those places are special. Respect that and contribute, “commit to it” and you stop being a hater.
Damon is a community builder at heart. At the book signing, he encouraged everyone to get to know their seatmates as they share some of the same love of travel and challenges about launching into the world. ‘While you’re waiting in line to get your book signed, introduce yourself to the person standing next to you.”
He also encourages travelers to learn another language – at least one. It reminded me of trailing behind my boyfriend in France and struggling to follow conversations with my high school level French, or in Brazil where I was brimming with questions but couldn’t express my wonder, curiosity and gratitude beyond mumbling ‘obrigado.’ And Damon’s working to master five languages! For example, he spoke about how learning French made being an expat in Paris so much better. The experience led to creating online language courses and the success of those has propelled his career. He’s also very good at writing, starring in, and producing his videos.
The young author is mindfully paving the way for people around the globe to become aware, observant, and overall a respectful world citizen.
It took me a long while to book my first international flight and I didn’t return home for six months. What amazed me most was realizing that the worst part, the anxiety, and fear of the unknown, evaporated as the flight took off. If I had Damon’s guided journal, I would’ve felt more secure as a global citizen before I lofted my backpack onto that airplane and took off to see the world.