As it happens, I have had an unusual number of conversations about travel in the last couple of weeks, mainly with staff and students who were away on trips during the March break. The majority of the trips were service trips. In our Leadership program we have an expectation that all students in the school will engage in a certain amount of service activity, as appropriate to their grade. While the vast majority of students perform their service closer to the School, in Victoria, we also encourage a sense of global responsibility by arranging service trips to other countries. In this particular March break, students went on service trips to Nicaragua (performing various tasks in a village), to India (working in an orphanage and building a school), Cambodia (working with young people in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh), and Buenos Aires, Argentina (working in a school for orphans where we have built up a relationship over a number of years.)
In addition to these service trips, a number of Senior School art and music students were performing music and taking in the sights in Europe, and another group was exploring Mexican culture in San Jose Del Cabo, on the tip of the Baja peninsula. I myself was away on my annual trip to Asia, visiting China and Hong Kong on this particular visit, although normally we would also visit Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei. SMUS has covered the world.
The benefits of travel, for the purposes of service and cultural growth, seem self-evident to me after doing so much of it. What impresses me about our students, however, who have not travelled as much, is that their thirst for travel is not at all slaked by these fabulous trips. The service trips, which can be quite demanding, inspire in almost all students the desire to go back, to do more. The culture trips elicit a similar reaction, in this case it is to explore more, after realizing that perhaps that Victoria or one’s home town isn’t quite as complete and sufficient a world as one might believe.
What impresses me about the reflections of our students after these occasions is how they prove the truth of the observation that travel teaches us as much about our inner selves as the wider world. I haven’t talked to a single student who wouldn’t agree.
To hear it in their own words, here are a couple of accounts:
What do you think? Feel free to comment below!