Get off the tourist track. Engage with local people. Find ways to interact on a personal level. Participate in family events. Have discussions with people who you cannot speak with. That is how you see what a country values.
At the wedding last week, I was extremely uncomfortable. I slept a few feet away from my future food while it was butchered. For the record, machete chopping is a tremendous alarm. The house did not have air conditioning or internet. It lacked a shower and the doors were not conducive to my height (I hit my head a lot). But it had something that our homes often lack. Community connection and interaction.
The entire village came together to share in the love of this young couple. If you got married next week, how many of your neighbors would help you? An even better question might be, have you met your neighbors?
This attitude was my main takeaway from Leyte. It took traveling halfway around the globe to see the value of a close-knit community bonding together to meet a common goal. It is simple yet profound. We do not have limits when we all work together.
They decorated a church, set up a reception area for 500 people, butchered 8 pigs and 3 cows, prepared the food, entertained guests, had a wedding, delivered the bride via water buffalo taxi, and most importantly had a great time doing it. I never saw a person lash out in frustration. The opposite was true. They throughly enjoyed each others company and loved the work they were doing. They did all of this in about 15 hours. That is amazing.
This was the highlight of my trip. It was so fun to interact with the people of the community and get to know them as best I could.
Do me a favor, take a trip outside your comfort zone. It does not need to be outside the country, but it should be slightly nerve racking. Situations like that force you to reassess what is important in your life. It is a good habit to do from time to time.