I have always loved this quote from Mark Twain's book Innocents Abroad!
My wife used to get upset at me when I referred to the small town mentality of her home town. It wasn't meant as an insult, it was just that many had never wandered far from where their umbillical chord got snipped. They didn't know much of the outside world. I recall one day when a group of locals were sitting at a restaurant and one of them complained that he bought a Sears VCR thinking he had bought "American" and yet when he opened it up, there were only parts from China!
It took a lot of travel to new places before my wife finally understood what I meant by small town mentality. If she had grown up in downtown Chicago or New York City, her biases would have been totally different. Not better or worse, just different.
I have currently been to 17 different countries and I lived in four of them. I started kindergarten in Saigon Vietnam during the war. Then, in 3rd grade, we moved to Seoul, Korea. We moved back to the United States when I started 5th grade and bounce around until I completed my sophomore year in high school. Then we moved it Tehran, Iran where I graduated from high school during the overthrow of the Shah in December 1978. I moved back to the United States, alone at the age of 17.
Here is an interesting read that is written by one of the students from Tehran American School. It is not your average "coming of age" book. Some of us were not so innocent abroad.
I am extremely grateful for each and every experience for it has made me the man I am today. I firmly believe that being a third culture kid helped me learn to empathize with others and to keep an open mind to new ideas.
It helped me be a good Realtor in that I can appreciate the concerns when relocating to a new home, city, state or country. I am going to start teaching the "At Home With Diversity" class for the National Association of Realtors in addition to their new "Bias Override" class. Hopefully, those classes (and others) will get me to the four remaining United States, I haven't been to yet!
In those classes, I will share some of my personal experiences from around the world to help others see through prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.