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Long Term Travel As Education Part 3:World Citizenship

To me, as a professional educator and a parent, this is a key component of a modern education. The world is shrinking at an alarming rate, and we have to produce kids who can live, work, and thrive in it without fear. Instead of sowing the “us vs. them” mentality another generation deeper, we absolutely must create a generation of people who are able to see commonalities first, who have the skills to reach across cultural as well as continental divides, and who have enough real world experience outside of their own cultures to have a bit of perspective and the ability to make it happen. Diversity campaigns in middle America where one digit percentiles of children are otherwise than caucasian have limited effect.

What works? Wintering in a Muslim country post 9-11, experiencing illiteracy in Eastern Europe, and living and learning barefoot with Mayan tribes who share Spanish with you as a second language are a good start. How about raising money for literacy projects in third world countries that you’ve visited and seen in action, first hand? Or learning a complex set of manners and customs in a country completely foreign to you and becoming comfortable transitioning between cultures. Maybe spending enough time as the only person of your particular color in a region to get past feeling uncomfortable being stared at and long enough to gain an understanding of what it means to be a minority in color, religion, or language. I guarantee foreign policy in the next generation will look different if the people elected have a few of these experiences under their belts.