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Every time I leave Canada and enter into a new country, I make it a point to meet people and hear their perspectives on life. More often than not, whenever I ask questions with genuine curiosity, I’ve been met with honest, genuine responses. Too often, I see a strict divide between the tourist and the local. It’s as if tourists are afraid to ask questions because they don’t want to seem ignorant, but it’s a paradox because if you don’t ask, you’ll never learn. People are people, and we are all curious about the differences in our ways of life.

While we met multiple people, both locals and tourists alike, a couple of people’s stories stand out in my mind. On one of our last nights on the resort, a steel orchestra band played various songs on stage in their unique caribbean style. On top of that, all the band members shared their individual talents such as dancing and singing. It was obvious that most of the members in the band were high school/college aged kids.

Rightfully so, the hotel often features local talent to give them more exposure. Later on that night, we heard the band walking to their rooms, and one of the kids stopped to chat with us. He was 19 years old and had just been accepted into the Silver Birds Steel Orchestra about 5 months prior. He told us that this full-time job included 5 hours of daily practice and 3 shows per day in varying cities and counties. Although he was visibly tired, he was excited to chat with us about his goals and vision — creating music.

He wasn’t the only one with musical goals. I’d say a good 4/5 people we spoke to had dreams of being musical entertainers. There is no lack of talent (especially musical) on the island of Jamaica, but there is a lack of opportunity. Well, at least in the current day, there’s a lack of knowledge of opportunity.

On our last day, a 25 year old security guard came over to speak with us. He told us he was from a very poor area in Kingston, and was raised without any parents. As a child, he often went 3-5 days at a time without eating, and was introduced to drug trafficking at age 10. Already having gone to jail, he said he was moving away from that lifestyle although still very adamant about becoming rich. Putting poverty aside, we asked him what the vision behind wanting money was. It was clear he was still struggling to form his true vision, but knew money was obviously a necessary part of it. He mentioned that he had been doing research into affiliate marketing on his own and was interested in creating a passive income. As I’m sure you can guess, we all started discussing the opportunities awaiting him by means of the internet.

Friends, if you don’t yet understand what I’m getting at here, the internet is the key to opportunity. People coming from the slums of Kingston, Jamaica never had the opportunities they have today. A orphaned child living in absolute poverty has never lived in a better time, as insane as that may sound. The interactions with these people are not only memorable because they gave us a fresh perspective on the realities they face daily, but they, once again, reaffirmed that all people have the innate desire to grow and reach their full potential — regardless of where they’re from or what privilege they have or haven’t been born into.

In these moments, it was people helping people. Most of us cannot relate to the immense struggles a good 95% of the planet’s population endures daily, yet we complain. If a 10 year old child living in a slum has bigger dreams than you, you need to reset your way of thinking and recharge your mind with gratefulness every single day.

What’s your excuse?