What Experiences Have Taught You the Greatest Lessons?

My decade as a foreign correspondent was the greatest gift of education I will ever receive.  On last count, I think I’ve reported from more than twenty countries, excluding Australia.

When working for shows like Foreign Correspondent I often spent a day or two with the people I was reporting on. This gave me an insight into incredible lives so different from my own.  I glimpsed life in a Palestinian refugee camp, what is was like to be the family of a young Israeli soldier killed in conflict, what it was like to live in a cave in the centre of China.

Being receptive to other points of view makes you less judgemental and helps you see the different sides to a story.

Reporting from Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 was a defining experience.  I am not a particularly brave person.  In those first few months I saw a lot of death.  People even came up to me on the street to show me photographs of dead relatives (and I don’t mean when they were alive). I realised that many Iraqis were so traumatised, dead bodies were no longer shocking to them.  I didn’t enjoy being in war zones, but they teach you about the basics of what matters, of what humanity is.

As a child growing up in Hong Kong where my Dad was a newspaper editor, I awaited the arrival of the daily news under the front door.

The headlines fascinated me and I saw that bad stuff happens, no matter who you are.

We knew people who died when an apartment building near ours collapsed in heavy rain.  Refugees fleeing China were attacked by sharks while swimming to freedom, the squatter huts (inhabited by poor people because there wasn’t enough housing) frequently went up in flames. A policeman lost his hand while detonating a bomb.

So in short, the greatest lessons have come from travelling widely and being curious.