“More than the seeing of sights”
October 31, 2014
“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
– Mary Ritter Beard, U.S. Historian, Archivist & Women’s Sufferage Activist
I would like to start this post by thanking the community of our partner school in Lalitpur, Nepal. In the weeks Sammy, Edward, and I spent there for TIEs with Teachers’ planning trip, I can honestly say we did not feel like tourists. We got to know so many students, staff, and parents. People invited us to their homes for meals, took us to places not listed in any guidebook, and asked us to participate in intimate holiday traditions. We made genuine friendships and had fascinating conversations. It got to the point where every time we walked through the town square, we would run into someone we knew. I can’t express what an amazing feeling this is.
I want to encourage everyone reading this to try this kind of travel – travel that makes me think of Mary Ritter Beard’s line, “more than the seeing of sights”. It’s different from what many of us are used to, and much more difficult to arrange – it often requires a personal connection with someone in the host country or a work/volunteer opportunity. But when you do it, you will actually participate in the local culture, rather than just observe from the outside. And like Beard says, it will cause a “deep and permanent” change in your way of thinking.
For me, this change in thinking occurred in my views of education. By working in schools abroad and collaborating with foreign educators, I have gained new ideas about classroom management and how to build a sense of school community, and I have come to appreciate the role of culture in how students learn (more about this in future posts!).
TIEs exists to provide teachers with opportunities for this kind of travel. However, I encourage people in any profession to go abroad and do more than just see the sights. Collaborate with foreigners in your professional field. Stay with a host family or a contact you have in a foreign country. Volunteer or work abroad. Because when you do this, you will come home with more than just photographs and a bag of souvenirs – you will return with new “ideas of living”.