"In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught." Baba Dioum, 1968
I think this is the answer to the question in the title of this blog. If you are reading this blog post you probably already fall into the category of knowing that travel helps eradicate cultural ignorance, racism, and a whole slew of social problems. Getting to know the world in which we live first-hand, helps us to see its beauty and purpose, while motivating us to protect the planet.
Many students grow up knowing the traditional family vacation, filled with fun, food, rest, and as little mental excursion as possible. This is a great way to recharge your batteries and unwind. During these types of vacations, we want to close off the outside world and be with our families. This can be very rewarding, but it is not the only type of vacation. Many unique opportunities exist today for seeing the world around us.
An educational trip has a similar affect but is even better. Not only do you get to recharge your batteries but you make them last longer and stronger for the next run in life. An educational trip has you mostly looking at the world around. Having guides and locals help you look at the culture through the eyes of the locals and not just the lens of your own upbringing. The results of this are often more understanding of things in your culture, having seen how things are done differently in other cultures. It also might come by seeing what others do in other countries for an average work day and wage. The US style of comparing itself with the Joneses is much more enlightening when you make the entire world your neighbor and not just the people on your block. It is so common to unconsciously compare ourselves to other cultures thinking they did it wrong and we did it right on certain topics. Having lived in Costa Rica for the last 20 years it is shocking how wrong or right certain customs or ways of doing things can be done on both sides.
Some of the ripple effects for students of educational travel are higher self esteem, better understanding in conflict situations, realistic ideas of what career they would like to pursue, and the list goes on. While the benefits are grand for the student on the educational trip it must be kept in mind that the percentage of students on our planet that actually get this opportunity is small. Some of the kids that have these travel opportunities will grow up to be influential in the private and public sector. It is in their youth that these experiences are more crucial than anytime in their life. But it should also be said that the many local kids they will visit on their trip is the closest opportunity those local kids will get to traveling abroad. The student visiting is the ultimate ambassador of educational trips and they should be properly prepped on this task before their trip.
Educational trips are a win win for not only for the students doing the traveling but also everyone they cross paths with in life making it an exponential way of changing peoples lives.