My Grandparents have been to more than 100 countries. Their house is adorned with matryoshka dolls, hand-carved wooden giraffes, photos of penguins and various trinkets and souvenirs. As a child, I would stare at the red pins on their world map and wonder about the life of a child in the USSR or try to imagine the landscape of Papua New Guinea. I think my favourite item in their house is a book called Material World: A Global Family. In gorgeous photos, this book depicts “statistically average” families from around the world outside their homes with all of their possessions.
Photo credit: Material World
The images from this book were imprinted deeply on my memory and were formative in my understanding of myself in relation to the world. I have long known that my upbringing in North America is not the global “norm”, no matter how much pop culture would lead me to believe that the American teenager is typical.
As such, I was excited to see that a new generation of photographers embarked on a similar project, Toy Stories. This photo series features children from around the world with their most prized possessions.
Photo Credit: Gabriele Galimberti
I love this photo project and the book as they level the playing field. There’s no mention of jobs or pensions or race or political leanings. Just a snapshot into the daily life of regular people around the globe. These projects stir questions in me, like, How can I be more thankful? How can I be more willing to share? What do I really need? Why is there such disparity? What is my role in a world rife with poverty and injustice?
Furthermore, these photo projects inspire me in me a desire to create beauty. As our intercultural marriage provides us with a cultural kaleidoscope, I have the opportunity to discover and celebrate.
My love for exploring cultures unknown to me is in large part due to my Grandparents influence (it’s also largely due to my parents, but that’s another post for another day). They taught me the joy of getting on a boat or a plane to a foreign land. They told us about having supper with Jimmy Stewart during their Antarctic cruise and the wonder of seeing Mt. Everest from a helicopter. In our intercultural marriage, this spark of curiosity is crucial. As we live in a neighbourhood populated by people from all over the world, this wonder gives me questions and patience and joy. In considering future opportunities, this legacy of exploration fills me with courage and excitement.
My Grandparents’ love of traveling, my intercultural upbringing and marriage, and many other factors have rendered me extremely conscious of the fact that the world is filled with incredible diversity and disparity. With this knowledge and these images populating my thoughts, I am inspired me to create beauty, explore the novel, celebrate uniqueness, fight injustice and rejoice in thanksgiving.
What inspires you? Where did you get your love of traveling or curiosity about other cultures?