What You Could Be Learning


For many years now, the aim for young people in developed countries is to acquire the best possible education. From nursery right through to 9am university lectures, children, teenagers, and young adults are usually given a syllabus from which they can learn from. However, have you ever wondered how your learning might have been different if you were born somewhere else?

East Asia

Out of the many talents of people around the world, not many match the endurance and legendary strength of the Sherpa people. Many people are common with the term ‘Sherpa’ as it’s often used as an umbrella term for mountaineering porters. However, the Sherpa are actually a group of people who live within several of the the mountainous regions of Nepal.

The Sherpa people live up to their name by being excellent mountaineers and experts in the local terrain. Sherpas were originally used as porters by budding western climbers; as they proved themselves to be invaluable to many of the Himalayan expeditions, the best graduated to official climbers and were awarded the ‘Tiger medal’ by the British Himalayan Club. Those with the Tiger medal were recorded as exemplary climbers and the title was recognised by future European, American, and British climbers.

From a young age, Sherpa children are taught to be upbeat and dedicated even in the worst conditions, and some are even born with high-altitude adaptation. However, outside of the tourism industry, money is not as abundant and many of the Sherpa people would prefer to risk their lives to continue these cultural practices.

North America

From the blistering cold Nepalese mountains to the breezy American Mid-Western plains, there are communities that have managed to avoid technological advancements and openly choose to live simpler, traditional lifestyles. They are more commonly know as the Amish. Their culture is derived from the teachings of Jakob Ammann, an Anabaptist leader. The Amish way of life differs between communities, but all of them fundamentally reject pride and arrogance, placing high value on humility and submission to the ‘will of Jesus’.

Formal education stops at the age of 13 or 14, and they are instead encouraged to start working in the community, either as farmers or as building repairers. Before their baptism, which is between 16 to 25, they take part in Rumspringa. Amish people are not naive and are aware that during adolescence, young adults may misbehave. Depending on the community, the rules are relaxed for young adults and they are allowed to socialise with the non-Amish populations, wear modern clothing, and even have the opportunity to leave the Amish community.

From the outside looking in, this may seem like a break from a strict lifestyle; however the majority of the young Amish community choose to remain within the norms of Amish dress and behaviour; around 90% of Amish teenagers choose to be baptised and join the Amish church.

The Caribbean

As with the Nepalese Sherpas, tourism is one of the largest ways of making money; but in Cuba, it functions slightly differently. Cuba is known to be one of the few remaining socialist states with a Communist government. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, which Cuba highly depended on, it introduced self-employment in certain retail sectors, which encouraged tourism.

The Cuban people have adapted to the increase in American dollars by changing the way begging is viewed. Although it is still not considered massively respectable, begging for US Dollars has become a way of making money. With its roots in poverty, begging tourists as a job attracts Cubans from all walks of life, all of whom hope to capitalise on the generosity of foreigners and the strength of the US Dollar.

Children are often pulled out of school and are ‘dressed down’ to encourage people to donate more money. When questioned why beggars don’t get a ‘real’ job, they explain that the money from government jobs is not sufficient to feed themselves and their families. According to one woman, begging has become a way of life, and she is much more happy to be out on the streets, rather than far away from her family, working in a factory somewhere in rural Cuba.

Regardless of where they are in the world, people are able to adapt to their surroundings and develop the talents and skills needed to survive and be happy. Next time you feel the creeping urge of procrastination come along, remember that there are millions of new skills that you could be teaching yourself. Try not to start off with begging though!


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