Bali was a great life experience. I was able to experience the province in a way, different than most who visit. What I remember best is how I lived in a place that resulted from a mixture of both tradition and modernization – of culture, and tourism.
My background in Public Health has taught me that modernization brings great advances for a country’s inhabitants, their health, and ultimately their life expectancy – something I believe to be one of the greatest accomplishments of modernization. However, in Bali, where modernization is spurred on by the influx of tourists and the tourism business, I was exposed to some of the negative consequences of tourism and modernization.
I used to always view tourism with this wonderful, golden light. It is a very great thing, yes, but in Bali, tourism does more than just bring money into the province. With regard to modernization, tourism also affects the government, the environment, society, and the Balinese culture and their traditions. I do not look down upon the idea of modernization, but there are many changes it brings that a lot of people do not realize. Being able to see the island in its process of developing – as the Balinese people try to keep their traditions while being pushed and rushed into modernization – is something I can not really put into words.
Another thing I remember is seeing the happiness of the Balinese people; a unique, unbridled happiness that came from just being able to share with us their cultures and traditions. What do we have in America that lets us do the same? Disneyland? Smart Phones? Are those things truly our own? Being in Bali opened my eyes to many things that previously, never even crossed our mind.
Looking back on it, my time in Bali was not just a place for me to advance in my academic career. I learned that, going into any area with the idea of “helping” is a very, very privileged mindset, and some people even become lost within that idea. To believe oneself as being superior over another can be a fatal mistake. After all, we all are humans, even if we live our lives in different ways.
To top it all off, I was able to stay in Bali while meeting and getting to know such an amazing group of people. We all came from diverse backgrounds, and we all were enlightened in some way or another. Like I first said, my trip in Bali was a great way for me to experience life. I will cherish it, appreciate it for the opportunity it was, and hope never to forget it.