“Fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindeness…” (Mark Twain) — Travel may be the single most efficient form of education. At once, young people see, hear, smell, taste cultures different from our own and are forced out of their comfort zones. Foreign languages suggest foreign viewpoints. Words and therefore ideas, exist in other languages that simply don’t exist in ours. And vice versa. A trip to an island paradise ought to include a drive through local towns and villages not on the tourist punch list. The contrast of an idyllic resort with a nearby town with dirt floor huts, street peddlers, and scant infrastructure will long remain vivid in a child’s mind. As this article suggests, community service opportunities exist in such places, and are available to families with children.
But do we really need to pay a travel premium to do good? Doesn’t charity begin at home? Isn’t there plenty of need right in our own communities? We say yes. Foreign community service, though appealing to some young people, screams “RICH PARENTS” when listed on a college application. Why not do something downright inconvenient, absolutely routine, and completely local? Tutor an underprivileged child, visit a shut in routinely, become a regular working in a soup kitchen. Connecting local community service with a student’s daily life creates a lifetime mental linkage: the poor are among us, and “from those to whom much is given, much is expected.”
- Volunteer Trips: Is Your Family Ready? (travel.nytimes.com)