An effective tool to fight unkindness: meeting someone completely different from you.
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Exploring the world helps you grow.

All images by Travel Noire.


Sure, finding yourself in a place you've never been and where you don't know the language is enough to push anyone's boundaries. But it's so much more than that.

Putting yourself in situations that open your eyes and your mind is essential to human development.

It shatters stereotypes.

Yep. It's one of the best ways to break them down.

Think of what the many contentious political debates that rage around us would be like if we learned to see past stereotypes and see people for who and what they are: human.

Well, you can go to Unlearning Your Bias 101 and learn how to really, truly see other people — or you can pack a bag and experience other people who are nothing like you. (Actually, some of us probably need both, but why don't we start with the more enjoyable approach first?)

[Learn] to feel connected to people, who are wholly unlike you, and the place they come from.

This isn't about observing other people and communities like a National Geographic photographer. This is about actually learning to feel connected to people, who are wholly unlike you, and the place they come from.

There's a big world out there full of things you've never even imagined.

I know it's easy to think that your city or even your country is the center of the world. (Looking at you, New York.) But guess what? It's not! Some realities just can't be fully understood without the physical experience. And really, truly grasping that might just make you a bit more concerned with and empathetic for issues that take place all around the world.

Some realities just can't be fully understood without the physical experience.

And while I'd like to think that posting pictures of victims of U.S. military policies is enough to inform your stance on defense, visiting another country might just change how you look at drones. Maybe hearing immigrant mothers on the news sharing their stories is enough to help you understand, but if a trip to beautiful Bolivia awakens your compassion and awareness, why not go?

Seeking out connections that span similarities really does matter.

It changes how you view yourself and the world around you. It changes what you believe is right, wrong, and possible. It changes your perspective forever.

And while that may sound a little hyperbolic, just listen to some people who have fallen in love with a company called Travel Noire over the past year. Travel Noire's goal is to make travel accessible to everyone and to connect a community of smart, savvy black travelers.

Their lives have been enriched in countless ways by taking a chance, meeting their fellow humans, and experiencing the kindness of the world around them.

Check it out:

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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