The Experience That Makes The World Smaller
Ron Lowenthal, Global Village 2001
September 2001
The global village is a wonderful experience that lets one feel how the world got smaller, how the human beings all around the globe are similar yet different, how his life, goals, costumes and culture are merely a dot on a big map. You thought that “this” is the way to do things? Well, check this one out: there are 1.3 billion people in one large country that do that same thing totally different. You are one, they are a billion. Now how about that?

I never spoke to anyone from Kuwait before. I didn’t know that a country by the name of Slovenia exists. I ended up dancing with a girl from Malaysia where it is forbidden to go to my country and touched nose-to-nose with a U.A.E citizen who, at first, did not want to panel with me on the same stage and on the same day. Now, that’s something.
I took a 45 year old Chinese, that had never been to an amusement park in his entire life, who could barely speak English and was a bit of an outcast to the group, to participate in a roller coaster ride for the first time. That was moving. He cried and laughed like a little kid and I was satisfied in a high-level ecstasy satisfaction. That happened on the same day in which a friend of mine conducted a class of his own, after I have urged him to be courageous and go on stage. Few days earlier I was motivating him to make a speech for the closing dinner, rehearsing with him and giving him some tips that helped him get along.

Image courtesy Global Village Program Lehigh University

I was helping people behind the scenes, cheering up a weeping friend from a European country who was mocked by some girls earlier, even sleeping one night on a sofa, as I was helping another friend to somehow host 2 ladies from Azerbaijan whom I didn’t even know. He needed her to sleep somewhere, I contributed my room. That’s friendship and it kept happening to me around the GV with people I knew here for the first time and for a couple of weeks or so.
At the end of the village, I got a phone call to New York. Hann from Singapore got stuck in the airport with no money. Now, that we became friends, I happily paid for his ride to the city from the airport and then delivered him to the home of an alum where some other interns were sleeping. He was saved from a sleepless night in the airport and my day was shining for a few nights. That is a very valuable asset that the village gives you: friendship with those who were foreigners five seconds ago, with continents that you never visited, with respect to other languages and cultures, with enthusiasm for curiosity.

“The global village is a wonderful experience that lets one feel how the world got smaller”
A night talk with Kartik from India about Pakistan. Neil is wondering about the situation with Palestine. Simon needs advisement. Iris is a little down and I have my ways to make her smile in a few seconds. Here comes the late night discussion with Moshe and Hann. Those people were anonymous just 2 days ago and here they are, filling my thoughts, conquering my nights with great stories and jokes and some men talk.

Image courtesy, Global Village Program, Lehigh University

I organized some aerobic jogging at nights but the couples behind me were exercising privately. I set with a girl from Europe that wanted to talk and found myself trying to explain to her in 3 different languages what happened with Jesus. Jesus, that’s a hard one.
My goals were mostly met: I enlarged a network that goes around the globe, I showed all of the 71 ambassadors that Israelis are not what they seem from the mass media (monsters? Killers? Bunch of weirdoes?), I’ve learned a lot about business and leadership and was inspired by some great people, which most of them are reading this document right now. I found out that even the most educated, left-winged, open-minded Arab countries’ ambassadors hate us. That there is a lack of knowledge regarding the state of Israel. But also that I, eventually, look just like all the other Europeans (ask the Polish women), talk similar to the Arab countries (in the eyes of Claire) and can find the Jordanian girl attractive. Yes, The global Village is a nice experiment with people. You take 39 countries, find 71 people, and blend them together ‘till you make up a human soup. Served cold at the beginning in the dining room’s lunch, warmer and delicious at the end. Not that it didn’t have some drawbacks: the whole system was American – ethnocentric in a way, I mean – you learn how to do business around the world in American eyes. You eat, breath and talk American. We could have decided, for example, that one day we will all talk Spanish, take our shoes off like in an Arab tent or drink delicate Chinese tea. But we didn’t do that, as we were studying how to be open-minded towards other nations and cultures, but in the American non-tolerant way.

That is a built-in contradiction in the process. But the process works and goes on. I have gained a lot from it. Did some trips, gone fishing, been in the white house, talked to the Amish, danced with Ukrainian chick and had discussions with a cute Russian. Discovered a lot about people, places, business tips, diplomacy and mentality differences. It was a pack of moments to cherish, remember and ponder about. It was a very enlightening experience that touched me but I had to realize it only on the way back home.
When you were there – you lived it, in high intensive pace. When you gone out – you realized what it was. It was an awesome experience. Something to remember. Something that changes something in you. Something that this document can not fully uncover. Something else.
Thanks for being there and doing it. Thanks for the lessons, classes about business and bringing over business entrepreneurs to be from those 71 countries.
It was a pleasure. Shalom.