Nov 30, 2009

More on the Educational Value of Travel

Mark Twain is quoted as saying “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” This high praise, coming from one of America’s most famous authors, perfectly illustrates the power of travel.

Last week, we covered a few of the reasons that students should consider travel alongside traditional extracurricular activities as a means towards personal education, as well as talked about some of the ways that travel could parallel these activities. One unmentioned comparison is the counter-intuitive notion that travel could provide a local benefit similar to community-service. While it is true that an individual can directly improve the lives of community members by staying at home and volunteering, insights gained through travel could hold similar potential. Imagine relating an experience with people from your community in such a fashion that those who listen will connect to the people you talk about without even meeting them. Or how about presenting a cultural experience that broadened your own point of view in hopes of repeating the effect locally? The potential, like most extracurricular activities, relies on the individual and their ambition for self-directed learning.

For the student looking to set their résumé apart from all the others, travel could provide the necessary boost to open even the most prestigious of doors. Consider a traditional extracurricular activity, like interning at a locally distributed paper as a means towards building some journalism credibility. Now consider putting down on your résumé that you interned at that locally distributed newspaper in a foreign country and had to perfect a second-language to do it. To have such a unique insight into the world of journalism is going to land you far more consideration than staying at home for a similar internship.

As you weigh the paths available to you in the pursuit of self-betterment, consider travel, in all its many forms, one of several options. The exploration of foreign places is important for anyone seeking a well-rounded understanding of the world they occupy. We end this week’s blog the same way in which it began; with a quote from author Mark Twain--“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

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