On this page, you will find articles written by people from all over who explain why traveling and study abroad is so important.  Thank you for taking the time to carefully consider their words, and thank you, an advance, for the contribution you will make to society because of your willingness to travel. 

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Reasons for Travel
by Yes

My mother grew up in the countryside of Thailand. I asked her if she was poor when she lived in there and with her head held high, she replied: "As long as we had food in our stomachs, we were not poor." Once I asked my Thai grandmother for a signature and with a smile, I received a wrinkly thumbprint. Illiterate, like thousands of other people in developing co untries, she cannot even write her own name. She too, was not "poor".

As an American, it is somewhat confusing to try to understand that in many countries within the developing world, one is not "poor" as long as they can feed their family. Having been immersed in a self-centered nation of extreme wealth, opportunity and power, it is my hope that foreign travel will further test my American values as well as my morals on an international scale. I believe that even a glance through the eyes of another culture may question the very foundations of what I have been taught for the last 18 years.

As a child, I cried when I didn't get a Nintendo for Christmas. I had to settle for Powerwheels. While I threw out most of my lunch in school because I didn't like egg salad or tuna, thousands died of hunger and malnutrition in Ethiopia and Sudan. "If they're dying and hungry over there then send my food over there", I sarcastically and selfishly used to reply. It seems that I, like many others in this world, have grown up numb to the natural human instincts of sincerely caring about other humans--even though they may live somewhere else, and I may only see them on my large-screen TV in the news. Growing up in an "American bubble" has distorted my perceptions of what true generosity, caring and kindness entail, and for me to stay here without taking part in other cultures around the world would be a truly selfish and close-minded choice.

So the essay question is "What could I gain from international travel and cultural study?" The real trivia seems "What can't I gain?"

If I continue to go to "The School of American Culture", pursuing the all-too-popular degree of selfishness, greed, and self-centered survival, I might just have to go buy a new stereo, a BMW, a cell phone, and a different pair of $150 Nikes for each day at the office. -----And then after that, maybe I can call my brother in Thailand and thank him for gluing the soles on all my new shoes.

(It's true, he works 6 days a week, making about $60 a month, gluing soles on Nikes)

First Prize - High School

French: An Investment in the Future

"Parlez-vous francais?" sounded so abstruse to me four years ago when I first started studying French.  At that beginning I memorized it without full understanding, but later as my vocabulary continued to expand and my knowledge spread, I defined my way through this puzzle, French.  What in the beginning scared me, later on attracted me with its sweet and fast tunes.  Now, when I look back at that hard work I feel proud for the knowledge I have achieved.  This makes me feel good for the moment and I am sure it will make me feel better later.  The study of French will help my travel, my opportunities for future jobs and most of all it will broaden my knowledge in the linguistic appreciation.

There are approximately thirty-five countries around the world that speak French.  As a person who loves travelling, knowing French will encourage me to visit many of these countries.  First of all, my language skills will improve.  Secondly, I will be able to be in closer contact with the inhabitants, get to know them better, become part of them and they will become part of me.  French will not only help my traveling, but my traveling will help my French too; it will be a bridge to the world for me.

In an early future, after graduating college, I will be looking for a good, satisfying job.  Companies today are looking for skilled and completely educated employees.  Even if it will not be a job where French is required, French knowledge in my curriculum will make me look more qualified.  That is why French will open the doors to more job opportunities for me.

Even if one day in the upcoming future I will not have the luck to visit French speaking countries or my job will not require French acquainted employers, the study of French will give me a personal treasure of knowledge.  Language learning is not simple pure learning.  It is understanding a culture and its customs, it is perceiving what unites a nation, its language.  Knowing French will bring my education a level higher.  It will not only improve me as a person but it will also enrich me.

In conclusion, French is absolutely an investment for my future.  It will be helpful to the leisure part of my life, traveling, my business life, job, and my personal satisfaction.  In one way or another, as every investment, it will produce its fruits one day.  That is why I am proud to say: "Aujourd'hui, je parle un peu de fran´┐Żais."

Bora V., Grade 12 (MA)

From http://aatf.utsa.edu/nfw/1999/winners.html#1stHS

People travel for many reasons. We may search for the exotic, travel to acquire both objects and culture and to have temporary access to the unobtainable. 19th century travel in many ways was vicarious and mediated, one went where one was expected to go, traveled in the appropriate fashion and easily purchased photos of locations both visited and not seen. The photograph then served both as an aide memoire as well as an aid to reinvention. As the rhythm, speed and immediacy of the world changes, we can continue this tradition if desired, although many more choices are available to us. We can have entirely vicarious experience through the use of technology. In the past, only the photograph allowed us the privilege of adventure without leaving our seats, in the more recent past it has been the slide show, television, film. Now with thoroughly immersive technologies, we sometimes no longer know if we have in fact left our seats. We hover at the liminal, sit on the threshold, wonder where we've been.

The camera has always served as reassurance of the real. As the new technology of the late 19th, early 20th century it mystified and amazed, but most importantly, showed us that which we could not see for ourselves. It provided evidence of the exotic, the unvisited, reminded us that all was well with the world. The new technologies of the 21st century have all but removed that privileged position from the camera, allowing for the creation of believable simulations. We enter the new century no longer assured of the presence of that which we cannot see or even that which we can see. We reconnect with a past where our imaginations must fill in, without the power of photographic evidence, the world is again a strange and exotic place.

Time based media, being the language of myth, permissions us to suspend disbelief. It allows us the leg- up to adventure. New technologies take us beyond the suspension of disbelief, beyond the exotic, into new and unimagined worlds. What once was the dream of the voyager is now hovering at our doorstep. We can finally be in two places at once.

<> http://www.arts.arizona.edu/flax/journeys/about_journeys.html

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