Saodat Sadikova is an English teacher in Jizzakh, Uzbekistan. As a young girl, she dreamed of becoming a flight attendant and traveling the world. Her parents told her she would have to learn at least three languages in order to reach that goal.
Although she was not able to become a flight attendant, Sadikova did study languages. She speaks Uzbek, Russian, English and Turkish.
Sadikova has never traveled outside Uzbekistan. Even so, she reports feeling connected to people around the world. “The whole world is for human beings,” Sadikova said. She still dreams of visiting many countries.
American Trina Bright worked in education for nearly 25 years. Today, she lives in the southern U.S. state of Arkansas. During her career, she traveled to many countries, including China and South Africa.
Bright used stories from her travels to help her students in the U.S. understand their place in the world. She spent most of her career in a minority-serving school district. Sharing stories from her travels helped her students see value in their own cultures. “There’s value in all experiences, not just typical American ones,” Bright said.
Bright has visited more than 20 countries. But Bright, unlike Sadikova, does not report feeling connected to people around the world.
Bright is not alone. She is among the more than half of Americans who report they do not feel especially close to people around the world.
That information comes from a new report by Pew Research Center, an organization that aims to inform the public about the issues, beliefs and trends shaping the world. The report, called Attitudes on an Interconnected World, was released on December 6.
Pew recently asked people in 24 countries a series of questions about how connected they feel to their own communities and countries as well as to people around the world. Pew researchers looked at, among other things, how international travel experience relates to feelings of connectedness.
About half of all respondents reported they feel at least somewhat close to people all over the world.
Feeling close to others around the world is more common in Europe than in most other places, the study found. In the United States, only 35 percent of the respondents said they feel at least somewhat connected to those in other countries. The percentage was even lower in Argentina (28 percent) and Indonesia (22 percent).
The study found that, in general, respondents who had traveled to at least one other country feel more connected to people around the world.
Ninety-nine percent of respondents in the Netherlands reported having visited at least one other country and about half said they had visited 10 or more countries. The Pew researchers found that 77 percent of respondents from the Netherlands said they feel at least somewhat close to people all over the world.
But international travel does not always mean a person feels a closeness to people around the world. Bright, the retired American schoolteacher, is one such exception. She said, “I don’t know a bunch of people around the world, just some.” And, she said, her connections to them are not especially deep.
Pew researchers found a similar case in Sweden. Ninety-nine percent of Swedish respondents said they had visited at least one other country. Yet a much smaller share of Swedish respondents – 47 percent – report feeling close to people all over the world.
In fact, a higher number of Indian respondents – 68 percent – report feeling at least somewhat close to people all over the world. Yet just 3 percent of respondents from India said they had traveled to another country. Such findings show that international connectedness can be formed in ways other than traveling overseas.
Sadikova, the Uzbek English teacher, told VOA Learning English she feels connected to people all over the world even though she has never traveled outside Uzbekistan. She said, “Some years ago it was difficult for us to get information about people in the world, but currently, because of media, it is quite easy to get acquainted with events and news.”
I’m Gena Bennett.
Gena Bennett wrote this story for Learning English with additional information from Pew Research Center.
Words in This Story
respondent–n. a person who answers a question
somewhat–adj. a moderate amount
acquainted with—phrasal verb. to be informed about someone or something