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Finding Common Ground Through Travel

By Sarika Bansal

Apr 12, 2022

From the Spring 2022 issue

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While camping in northern Kenya, editorial director Sarika Bansal hiked and played soccer with new friends from Marsabit County.

Photo by Jay Lurie

While camping in northern Kenya, editorial director Sarika Bansal hiked and played soccer with new friends from Marsabit County.

It’s never been more critical to slow down, open ourselves up to new cultures, and marvel at the world.

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I recently joined AFAR as editorial director. One of the things that attracted me to the company was its mission-driven approach: Instead of treating travel as a means to escape from the world, AFAR inspires travelers to engage with it more deeply. Travel allows us to pause, take in our exquisite planet, open ourselves up to new cultures, and better understand the perspectives of other people. These experiences can guide how we choose to live.

Before AFAR, I spent my journalism career writing and editing stories about global development, which allowed me to visit communities different from my own. My work required difficult and sometimes harrowing conversations on topics such as female genital cutting and infant malnutrition, but I loved connecting with people and searching for some kind of common ground, however small and fleeting. This feeling led me to publish a book last year, Tread Brightly: Notes on Ethical Travel. A collection of 17 essays, it poses the question, “When we arrive in a new place, how do we show up—culturally, environmentally, and socially?” 

I am excited to infuse this spirit into AFAR, especially as we embark on our first redesign of the magazine since 2015. We hope this Earth Issue, and editions going forward, will invoke the sheer awe that comes from exploring the world, while empowering you to be a more thoughtful traveler.

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Divided into three sections—Air, Land, and Water—this issue will help you discover and deepen your appreciation for nature around the globe. In this issue, we soar through the skies above Verbier, Switzerland, with a prominent female paraglider; go camping on the East End of Long Island, New York; and journey to Greenland, where climate change means the icebergs are disappearing—along with the rich language to describe them. We debut new columns, including Unpacked, which navigates the complex dichotomy between wanting to experience the world and the need to protect it from further ecological devastation.

As the poet, farmer, and essayist Wendell Berry once wrote, “The Earth is what we all have in common.” I’d love to hear what you think of the issue. Please drop me a line on Twitter @sarika008. 

>> Next: Around the World in 39 Places

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