The Value of Student Travel

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This Spring Break, some SMUS students will be taking part in an annual tradition of Spring Break trips. These international trips will take students to places they have never been and challenge them in ways they can never anticipate.

The cost of a trip to a far-flung place is high. Not only in terms of airfare and accommodations but in environmental terms as well – carbon emissions for a flight from Victoria to Nicaragua, for example, are estimated at almost two tonnes. So why continue to encourage student travel?

Living in boarding or attending classes with students from countries as diverse as Germany to Mexico to Taiwan isn’t quite the same as being surrounded and immersed in a different culture. Being taught about poverty around the world isn’t quite the same as seeing it in front of you and being able to do something simple – like paint a mural on an orphanage wall – that makes things a little better.

What makes these trips worthwhile is the effect they have on the students themselves. Looking back at student writing on these trips, I often think about Kaylynn Purdy’s words in her article on her service trip to Ghana: “You can’t understand what Africa is like until you go there.”

Reading reports on trips over the past few years, this idea of being unable to express how they feel or describe what they’ve seen comes up often. Below are a few write-ups that showcase how transforming these ineffable experiences can be.

Spring Break Stories

Ghana Service Trip
Galápagos Islands Exploration
Paris and Amsterdam: Music and Culture
Mexico: My First Service Trip
Nicaragua: Changes
India: A Festival of Colours

Another interesting point about our trips is that while there is a long list of options on our website, the students themselves drive the trips. What runs and doesn’t run is based on how many of them want to visit Kenya rather than India, or go on a service trip rather than a cultural excursion. The students who go on these trips are going because they want to learn more about themselves and their place in the world.

Over the break, you can keep tabs on some of our trips online. Student adventures in Nicaragua will be on the SMUS in Nicaragua blog and Michael Jackson’s trip to the Galápagos Islands (which he literally wrote the book on) will be documented on his Galápagos and Ecuador blog. We also hope to share the occasionally photo or update on Facebook and Twitter.

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