Do you know about Twaming? As soon as I heard about it, I knew I wanted to learn more and help this project grow.
The idea is simple : a traveler wants to, of course, travel, but also to share with locals his knowledge, skills and experiences. He wants to teach and to create a genuine bond with people. He becomes a Twamer through the website, and starts traveling. On the way, institutions (schools, hospitals, …) – Twamhosts registered on the website – interested by his project, give him an audience to talk to.
Do you want to raise awareness on climate change issues around the world? Do you want to make children smile with your skills as a comedian? Or even to just talk about your country while traveling? Then Twaming is for you. You can go visit the website right now.
I haven’t had time to try this wonderful way of traveling myself yet, so I contacted Nicolas, an experienced Twamer with a hundred stories to tell, who agreed to share with us the most significant moments of his experience.
“I chose to leave behind the classical lifestyle three years ago so I could pursue my dreams. Travel to the other side of the world, get to understand others and myself, share and discover new things everyday. I started with a sailboat who took me from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean, then traveled through the Antilles, South America and Europe. I discovered the Twam project through the creator’s enthusiastic participation to several events and festivals.
My Twam adventure started in a school in Martinique, in a small town that no tourist ever goes to. I told them about my adventures : the sailboat, the dolphins and flying fishes, the houses built inside caves in the Canary Islands to escape the heat, hitchhiking and its funny stories. I tried to make them aware of environmental issues by talking about how old our planet is, of the time it took to create life and how precious it is. They asked about my backpack and I explained to them that the bottom was my closet, the middle my kitchen and the top compartment my bathroom, and that I was carrying my whole house with me and didn’t need anything else.
On this journey, I often showed people my map of the world (where my itinerary was hand drawn) to ask them to point out their country. Children often knew the right answer, depending on their social class, but older people, especially in emerging countries, often didn’t know where they were. The conversations resulting from this experiment were often very interesting, making me realize that this simple knowledge was in fact completely useless to a Peruvian farmer! This kind of learning experience was a recurring thing throughout my journey. I was always careful not to arrive with a “know-it-all” mindset, like a gringo (white) that wants to impose his knowledge on others. Humility, patience, enthusiasm, were for me the keys to breaking down the cultural barriers and to create real communication.
In Guyana, I taught some street kids how to juggle, through an Aid Center that provided them with free education. These kids had never seen a juggler, they didn’t know how to do anything with their hands, but they learned very quickly. The Center was handled by a woman who had internet, so I managed to include her as a Twamhost, and I hope other travelers visited her since to bring something new to these kids with uncertain futures.
When going on a journey of initiation, you don’t just go to take your mind off things, but with the intention to grow, to go beyond your habits and beliefs and evolve. Every encounter brings you back to yourself. I met a lot of people who helped me grow, and they taught me things that made me each time go deeper in my own reflections. Beyond Twaming, I discovered the power of disinterested sharing, of learning from each other to create a better world.
If I can travel this year, I won’t hesitate to be a Twamer once again. I’ll try to find some places where I can bring a little bit of magic and dreams. I see it as a way to be human, to feel surrounded by all these other humans, all wanting the same thing: to be happy. This feeling is written deep into my Twamer-heart. I feel like other humans sometimes live a little bit too much inside their own heads and not enough in their hearts to get this feeling. The locals of the countries I went to often told me that they weren’t used to my behavior. One told me once: “El gringo no habla” (the white doesn’t talk). It’s a sad thing to hear, just as sad as the man being ignored by conventional tourists that don’t take the time to talk to them. My motto is: With humility and compassion, a smile will open every door.”
Thank you so much to Nicolas for sharing with us, it really makes me want to try Twaming! If you want to know more about his experience, you can contact him through his page. So, who’s ready for an extraordinary travel experience?