On Monday, I rode in an Uber from a small town in northern Massachusetts just outside of the New Hampshire border back to Boston. My driver was a Cambodian man who spoke to me at lengths about his favorite quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. and the Prophet Muhammad. He shared his story of moving across seas at eleven. When I asked where he moved from, he responded first with an expression of gratitude and then told me he was from Cambodia. Curious as to why he thanked me, I asked. He was grateful I didn’t assume he was Latino, something he said happens daily, and because I knew where Cambodia was.
I’m sure many of the post calvin readers would have responded in a similar way by not assuming this man’s ethnicity. But enough people do the exact opposite that this man felt the need to thank me for treating him with decency. That hurts. He deserves better.
Thankfully, I had the right teachers, including one special talking globe my parents gifted me for Christmas sometime before I turned ten. Through this globe and mediated through my parents, I like to think I became a globalist, not in a political science jargon sort of way (though perhaps that’s related), but just that for as long as I can remember, I have been very aware of the geographical structure of our planet. At one point in middle school, I had even memorized the location, name, and capital of every non-island country recognized by the United Nations. That present changed my life through the realization that the world I knew was incomplete and was only one of the worlds contained within my little globe.
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