East Timor: Not my normal blog post

This isn’t my normal blog post, but my son is anything but normal when it comes to some things, so I figured it was appropriate for his blog.

Wyatt and I have been reading this book, Junior Genius Guides: Maps and Geography by Ken Jennings, as we go to bed each night. I’m usually the one that pushes for a more “story” kind of book as opposed to facts. But I really am starting to like this book. Tonight we ended with the activity called first and last. It’s where you name a place: City, state, country, continent, ocean, mountain, landmark. And then the next person has to name one that starts with what yours ended with. And if you can’t you’re out.

As we named places I thought about what the book said earlier in the chapter. That National Geographic surveyed college aged Americans only 70% could find the Pacific Ocean on a map; while only 50% could find New York, and 12% could find Afghanistan.

Later it went on to say that geography is important. Then it followed with this “when we hear about faraway places in books or in the news, it’s good to know a little about them. Just imagine a world where we all knew a little more about each other. Maybe then we wouldn’t have to have wars and everyone would…”

I was thinking about that as we played the game together before bed. We went back and forth naming different places some I was very familiar with others Wyatt named that I never heard of before. Some maybe I had heard of them when he was telling me a fact or showing me something but never really thought about them in this way before. The country that for some reason really stuck out to me was the one Wyatt named after I said Europe. Most of us know Europe. Wyatt follows me with East Timor. Now I have heard him say that country’s name before but I never thought about it. I never wondered about where it was, what life is like there, how many people live there, do they have any major exports. Nope to me it’s just a name of a country that I have no clue where it is.

We just talked about how a recent National Geographic survey found that 70% of Americans don’t know where the Pacific Ocean is (one of our major oceans), and 50% of Americans can’t find New York. And only 12% know where Afghanistan is on a map. A place where we are actively sending our military to. Not to mention that the department of defense aka: military members makes up almost 7.5% of the American population. Do you see the problem there? Anyway with that in mind do you wonder what percentage of the population knows about a country called East Timor? It’s probably a very small number, maybe 1%. I don’t know. That is a guess of course.

Can you imagine being a country of 1.167 million people and not being known by a large chunk of the world? (Or at least Americans) That’s crazy, maybe that is a good thing. I don’t know. Well if you want to know East Timor is an island in Maritime Southeast Asia. It makes up the eastern half of the island of Timor, thus its name East Timor. It was colonized by Portugal then in 1975 it got it’s independence only 9 days later to be invaded by Indonesia, then to again get its independence with the help of NATO in 2002. Crazy. It uses the US dollar as its currency and one of its major exports is coffee.

I know this has been a weird post for this blog but I just found it all so fascinating. Not to mention that this whole train of thought was started by a 6 year old and a book written by Ken Jennings. I think he really did hit it on the mark though when he said “When we hear about faraway places in books or in the news, it’s good to know a little about them. Just imagine a world where we all knew a little more about each other. Maybe then we wouldn’t have to have wars and everyone would…”

If Wyatt has taught me anything in this life it is this; it’s never too late to learn something, and there is always something more to be learned. And sometimes you have to have an open mind when you open a book, because that book may just blow open your mind.

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About Jennifer Stumbaugh

I am a freelance/ portrait photographer currently working in the Central Pennsylvania area.
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