I recently returned from a trip to Europe and was reminded once again why travel is so important in our lives. On this trip I visited Prague, Munich and Salzburg. Like all of Europe, that area has such a rich and interesting history. I remember studying European history in high school and college, especially the World War II period. I’ve always enjoyed learning but reading out of a textbook pales in comparison to seeing the sights come to life. In a classroom, it’s easy to zone out the information or feel disconnected to how the lessons matter in your own life. Real life learning takes far away and abstract ideas and makes them relevant to our lives. Even one significant travel experience makes us more eager learners and more engaged when we do return to our classrooms.
On my trip I saw beautiful castles, ancient architecture, and awe inspiring natural sights as well as the landmarks significant in the Nazi rise to power and even a concentration camp. This experience reminded me how powerful it can be to make a real connection to history. The opportunity for young people to travel is such a great way to enhance their education whether it’s a family vacation, a spring break volunteer trip, or a study abroad opportunity in high school or college. Having these experiences at a young age, sets us up to be life long learners. International experience makes young people better students, employees and role models for the rest of their lives.
If you don’t have a chance to plan a trip in the near future, you can also bring the world to you this summer by hosting a foreign exchange student. You will be amazed by how much your family can benefit from the experience of spending time with someone from another culture. You and your children will create life long friendships and have a great time showing the student around your community. Teenagers benefit the most by expanding their global perspective, getting to practice foreign language skills and building self-confidence!
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