Foreign exchange programs can provide a few select students with rare and unique insights into different cultures, worldviews, and ways of life. Undoubtedly, those chosen scholars will return with a far wider understanding of the world we live in.
If this experience could be shared by everyone, we believe the world would be a far better place. Unfortunately, students are bound by certain criteria and financial means, relegating the experience to a privileged few.
Luckily, there is an alternative that can still provide a remarkable level of insight. Besides that, there are plenty of other benefits that can be easily overlooked, as well.
Sharpened Sense of Self-Awareness
It is no secret that the Internet has done a lovely job of connecting people from all over the world, but it cannot possibly hope to replace the raw and authentic experience of engaging with another culture in person.
It can not allow someone to directly listen to the different tongues people speak, the subtle nuances in their greetings and goodbyes, the contradictions and inconsistencies of another group, ethnic or otherwise.
All of this culminates in a heightened sense of self-awareness within the students who engage with these different peoples.
An international trip provides young scholars the chance to evaluate (or reevaluate) their purpose in life and their place in the world in a way that no blog, tweet, Instagram post, or even a textbook can.
Of course, engaging with an entirely new group of people and their culture takes a certain level of bravery and the courage to have one’s preconceptions and secular beliefs challenged and confronted.
Students who participate in these international trips will be much more confident afterward.
Their abilities and beliefs will be questioned every day, and it takes a lot of courage to be able to find the answers within oneself. Once that has happened, however, a student will become more and more confident in their skills and understanding.
This type of bravery can only do them good further down the line.
Improved Leadership Skills
A good leader can command respect because they are able to remain true to themselves even in the face of immense adversity.
Because students have had their most basic instincts and preconceptions challenged already, they will have also attained the level of conviction required to lead.
They may also actively seek out more leadership roles as a result. Needless to say, this is a spectacular quality to have, and it is one that is best acquired early on to meet the challenges of the world ahead.
More Appreciation for Other Cultures
It comes as no surprise that a trip to a land completely foreign to one’s own can force one to adapt to the laws and overcome the challenges of that country’s culture.
This leads to a greater sense of understanding for those who may seem “different” to you. It can also produce far more empathy and appreciation for these diverse human beings as a result.
Of course, one could easily take a vacation to experience another culture instead of taking a class field trip. Rest assured, though, that taking advantage of one’s opportunities to travel with one’s school is almost paramount to making it somewhere in the world (literally and metaphorically).
Students will be able to unravel the webs of prejudice and bias. Also, through the lens of a scholarly experience, they will be able to apply that knowledge to their studies both now and in the future.
If you would like to learn some perks of being a traveling journalist, take a look here.
It seems that more and more schools have begun traveling internationally as part of their individual curriculums, and we could not be happier for it. Students should be exposed to as much learning material as possible while still being stimulated mentally and emotionally.
There is nothing more stimulating or as interesting to learn about as the cultures of those who may seem different from you at first glance.