Life Changing Cultural Immersion
When people ask what is the single most important consideration in planning a visit to an indigenous society in a faraway land, I invariably respond with a single word: time. If given enough time, say, a minimum of three weeks in one general location, not only will the traveler return home with a deeper, more fulfilling awareness of place and understanding of the common fabric which unites all human beings, the authentic emotional bonds so commonly felt also instills within the indigenous society a sense of unique prominence within the context of world-wide cultural diversity.
In my region of expertise, Papua New Guinea, I’ve too often witnessed an indigenous tribal society succumb to the homogenizing impact of modern development not merely for the perceived benefits of infrastructure and government services, but rather for the absence of a reason not to. When knowledge of a modern world and its material wonders disseminates throughout a population whose way of life is still fiercely traditional, there is little that compels them to believe that the cultural identity shared by their infinitesimal population in comparison to the enormity of the industrialized world is of much, if any, value. Simply put, they often feel ‘forgotten,’ ‘lost,’ ‘primitive.’
Fortunately, I’ve been privileged to have had the chance to lead culturally immersive, 24-day trekking tours through very remote and traditional tribal villages throughout Papua New Guinea over the last decade. Not a single client has returned from a trip and thought that there was something lacking in the indigenous society that could be fulfilled by the industrialized world. With this innate realization arriving quite quickly in the nearly month-long trip, the traveller then has amble time to bestow a sense of intense admiration and appreciation for the customary indigenous culture they are witness to.
As a result, I’ve seen a resurgence of cultural pride in the tribes we visit and a fundamental recognition in the youth that there is great pride, honor and purpose in their unique cultural identity.
About the author: Blake Everson is an adventure travel guide specializing in Papua New Guinea cultural immersion. Learn more at www.originpng.com
Mount Bosavi, Papua New Guinea