The Age-Old Benefits of Student Travel
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Famous words from a famous philosopher living more than 1,600 years ago. Travel, it seems, has been considered important long before the ease of 21st century transportation. In fact, throughout the history of recorded human thought, travel took its place as not only influential, but essential to positive development. Eight hundred years before Augustine of Hippo made his famous comment, Euripedes said “Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.” Two hundred years after Augustine, Mohammed is quoted as saying “don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you traveled.” Centuries later that famous American wit Mark Twain said “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”
One needs not know those “famous” people or their comments regarding travel, but only recognize that the importance of travel to the development of minds and attitudes has been recognized for centuries. Indeed, the awareness of the tangible benefits of experiencing new places, people and cultures appear to be timeless and ubiquitous.
In our experience working with teachers and students to plan and deliver educational tours, we can testify to this ancient knowledge of the power of travel. Shared student travel experiences are uniquely educational. They are category busting. They create everlasting memories. They not only strengthen relationships, but can forge new friendships that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. When done well, educational tours open doors of the mind and heart that were previously unrecognized and closed. It is truly remarkable to see the new student form friendships while on their class trip. Or to witness the ‘eureka’ moments that students so often experience while at inspirational sites. To see the look of satisfaction on the face of a teacher when, on a tour, the gap between knowledge and understanding has been bridged.
What has been obvious and somewhat anecdotal to many who have been involved with educational travel, science has confirmed. Experts agree that travel helps development by increasing empathy for cultural differences, as well as the ability to adapt to changing situations or circumstances. Global education specialists actually claim that travel and education about students’ roles as citizens of the world ensures they will retain that message into their adult years.
Even the brain registers the difference in travel. For instance, students of neurology have long touted the positive cognitive effects of bilingualism on the development of brains. To put it succinctly, learning a new language, especially while abroad, allows for advanced processing and enhanced executive functions of the brain. Well, travel is much like learning a new language. For the student in rural America, beholding the sky-scrapers of New York City means increased capacity for wonderment. For the dreamer, the memorials and monuments are further encouragement to achieve; for the uninspired student, educational travel can be the link to inspiration. In essence, new sights produce new insights, and new insights are good for the brain and good for life.
So, whether it’s through our customized class trips to Washington, D.C, our field-based high-school research trips to National Parks, foreign language immersion tours to Europe, or any of our top-tier educational programs, you can trust that the benefits of travel will extend and last far beyond the classroom.
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