Geography in General

Have you ever noticed that most of us have a pretty vague sense of geography?  I wonder if that stems from a lack of emphasis in the classrooms of America?  Do we in the U.S. have an egocentric view of ourselves and think that our 50 states are the only things that really matter enough to concentrate on in any great detail?  Or….perhaps the world has shrunk so much through the magic of the Internet that we simply figure that we can look up the details on Google or some other search engine if we REALLY need to know a fact about a place.  I’d like to think it is the latter.

I’ve been thinking about this because of recent events in Indonesia.  This week there was an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra which triggered a tsunami.  Around the same time, the Mount Merapi volcano located near the town of Yogyakarta erupted and has continued to erupt which has left thousands of Indonesians in temporary shelters.

As many of you know, I have family living in that area of the world right now.  Naturally, I’ve had lots of friends asking me if they are ok.  I’m assuming that they are — mainly because the tsunami hit Sumatra, not Java.  Mount Merapi is further to the east from my relatives and I don’t think they are in any immediate danger from it.  But most of my friends wouldn’t know this unless they did some research.  I consider my friends my “early warning system.”  They are often my first indication that something has happened in that part of the world when they ask me about something like this.  They hear “Indonesia” in the news and immediately think of my son and family.  They don’t know that Indonesia consists of over 17,000 islands.  Most Westerners wouldn’t know this.  I wouldn’t know it except for the fact that I have family there.  So I’m always grateful that they are concerned enough to ask about them and it gives me the chance to go online and figure out what is going on, since I hardly ever watch the news.

It kind of reminds me of the time we lived in the Charleston, SC area.  My aunt in Minnesota used to call me up all hours of the day and night when a hurricane was approaching the East Coast and say, “Are you ok?”  She seemed to be convinced that “East Coast” meant “Charleston.” Bless her heart!

Or have you ever had people who, when they find out you are from a certain state, say something to you like, “Oh, you’re from Minnesota?  I have friends from that state.  I think they live in Rochester.  Maybe you know them.  Their names are Fred and Helen Schultz.”  Yup, odds are you probably have never crossed paths with the Schultz family but hey, for some reason folks always have to ask.

Perhaps it just goes to show that people are hungry for a sense of community and will try to find those ties and bonds wherever they can.  And it also shows that folks care…..maybe not what the capitol is of North Dakota but definitely how your children are doing when they are far from home.

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Hot Flashed Funk

  • People say that to me all the time when they find out that I grew up in Oregon.


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