What can parents give their child that inspires independence, begets bravery, creates compassion, and generates endless opportunity?
According to First Lady Michelle Obama, the answer is: Travel!
(AP Photo/ Andy Wong)
On her first official trip to China, during which she visited schools in three Chinese cities, Michelle Obama discussed the benefits of travel on a domestic and international scale, quoting the Chinese: “It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books.”
For many young people, going on a student tour is an important milestone. It is an opportunity to safely step out of one’s comfort zone, learn about other cultures, express respect and “build bridges of understanding,” in the recent words of the First Lady. It is important to the development of our young people, and to the development of our global community. And the First Lady is not the only one who thinks so.
According to an interview with CNN.com, Howard Wallack, an executive at a human resources trade group, emphasizes the importance of travelling as a student. When students travel, he says, they “learn to listen, be proactive, be patient, [and] assertive. All those are translatable skills."
Children and citizens who travel become ambassadors for their family, their school, their local community, and their country. And the educators and parents who make these opportunities possible give our children one of the most important gifts that we can give them – a chance to learn, grow, and challenge themselves.
Young people who go on a student tour are given the opportunity to learn. They must learn how to embrace new experiences, whether it's riding the subway for the first time or trying another culture’s food. In navigating foreign streets, children learn how to adjust to unfamiliar surroundings and adapt to change. They practice the skills of observation and self-awareness, and are challenged in new and exciting ways. These are skills that our young people must acquire as they strive to become successful and responsible adults.
As part of the student travel world, we see the benefits of getting students out of their comfort zones and opening their eyes to new places and experiences. Each new journey can inspire a student to become a true citizen of the world and build a foundation for lasting success across cultures in the future.