Going abroad can broaden outlook

Ten years ago, I took my first big adventure outside the United States. I grabbed a backpack and headed for New Zealand.

I took part in a seven-month sustainable agriculture program with others from around the world to gain skills in farming. This led to an opportunity to work on a few farms in Australia and also travel throughout Southeast Asia. The overall experience allowed me to gain a greater appreciation for different cultures. It also highlighted how local agriculture can be such a unifying factor in our world.

Recently, I and others have been able to share and promote a better understanding of people around the world. I would like to thank the Del Alma and Durango Adult Education Center for inviting me and hosting the “Travel around the World – Children’s Fair” earlier this month. This event allowed me to educate others about another big adventure I had serving in the Peace Corps as a volunteer in Lesotho, Africa. It was wonderful to see children walk around and visit booths representing countries and nations from around the globe, and regionally, with their unique heritages.

Earlier this week brought another great opportunity to educate area school students on a great 4-H program that promotes cultural understanding. Larry Dale Fritzler, from Sterling, visited some Bayfield and Ignacio classrooms to share his experience in the IFYE program. IFYE stands for International, Four-H, Youth, Exchange. Larry spent six months in Tanzania, Africa.

He gave a fascinating presentation about his experience and how their 4-H programs are conducted. He showed us slides of wonderful projects the Tanzanian 4-H members were doing in regard to crop production and tree planting.

In addition, he explained how all their livestock, horticulture and family and consumer science projects were business focused with an importance put on how these projects can lead to entrepreneurial endeavors. This is an aspect of our county’s projects I will be promoting in the future.

Fritzler also did a great job explaining how unique his cultural exchange was. He told a great story about how he lived with an Islamic family during Ramadan, a month-long observance by Muslims during which they fast from sunrise to sundown every day.

He shared how on the last day there is a celebration similar to the Fourth of July, where everyone grabs a red cup, puts out lawn chairs, plays music and has a great celebration. In this regard, Larry emphasized how similar humans are from all over the world. This was brilliant to see a cowboy from Northeast Colorado explain.

The IFYE program is open to all alumni 4-H members aged 19-30. Colorado State University Extension has programs in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. If you are interested, please contact me at the Extension office. Even though I and others have been fortunate to travel, I am reminded by what I was told by a fellow traveler when visiting the country of Laos. She said, “Some people learn more walking around the block, than others of us who have walked around the world.”

felsengh@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6463. Greg Felsen is La Plata County 4-H youth development agent.