Our Reality Tours inspire many people, and it’s fun to hear how our alumni have been transformed by their experiences and how they incorporate these experiences into their lives upon their return home. In this post we highlight the impressions and lessons learned by Karl Meyer and Shareen Brysac. In the fall of 2009, they participated on a Reality Tour to Kerala, India led by our in country program officer Suresh Kumar. Their experiences are described in a chapter of their new book Pax Ethnica: Where and How Diversity Succeeds.

Those of you who have taken the tour will recognize many of the interviewees including the journalist and freedom fighter Vasodevan Nampoothiri, Dr. R. Krishna Kumar, a pediatric cardiologist; newspaper editor S. Radhakrishnan, coordinating editor of The Mangalam Daily; Professor G.S. Jayasree of Kerala University, publisher of a journal of women’s studies, Samyukta; and Sri Marthanda Varma, Maharajah of Travancore. Gods’ Own Country (Kerala) is one of five chapters of Pax Ethnica, describing societies where people of various ethnicities and religions live in peace. In the book the authors question whether there actually are such places, and if so why haven’t we heard more about them, and what explains their success.

Reality Tours Participants and Community, Kerala India

To answer these questions, Meyer and Brysac undertook a two-year exploration of oases of civility, places notable for minimal violence, rising life-expectancy, high literacy, and pragmatic compromises on cultural rights. Beyond the Indian state of Kerala, they also explored the Russian republic of Tatarstan, Marseille in France and Flensburg, Germany, and the borough of Queens, New York. Through scores of interviews, they document ways and means that have proven successful in defusing ethnic tensions. This path-breaking book elegantly blends political history, sociology, anthropology, and journalism, to suggest realistic options for peace.

We extend our congratulations to Meyer and Brysac on your new publication and thank you for traveling with Reality Tours to Kerala! See praise and reviews for Pax Ethnica or sample their blog for the Pulitizer Center for Crisis reporting.

Travel to Kerala with Global Exchange: If you would like to explore our trip to Kerala, visit our website for information, photos and ways to learn more.