>Studying Abroad should be a requirement for LIFE

>I fully admit that I have had a privileged upbringing. I understand that not everyone has the ability to travel outside their comfort zone to learn about new cultures and ways of life. But oh how I wish everyone got this chance. I am fully convinced that if everyone was able to, even for just a week, travel to a place completely different from their own, immerse themselves in the culture (traveling to Mexico and staying at a resort town does not count) and appreciate the differences, that we would have a better educated, more tolerant, understanding, peace-filled global society.

I realize that this is probably an impossibility, but in my mind it wouldn’t even have to be international travel. A political science professor at my college proposed a class that would go and live with low-income families in the town where my college is while volunteering somewhere in that community as well. Even within the same town there can exist vast “cultural” variations due to differences in socio-economic levels.

I just think that sometimes people get so caught up and involved in their own comfort zone and that’s what causes intolerance and judgment. I think that traveling internationally helps people understand how the US is viewed abroad. It worries me so much that Sarah Palin has no foreign policy experience. I was reading an email sent by moveon.org with testimonies from Alaskans who said that she has absolutely no experience outside of Alaska, even! Imagine that, a woman one step away from being THE MOST POWERFUL PERSON IN THE WORLD who has no experience outside of ONE STATE. I understand that Obama also does not have foreign policy experience, but at least he has lived outside of the US, and picked a Vice President that has significant expertise in that area.

Anyway, so I guess what I mean by “studying abroad” doesn’t necessarily mean in the priviledged upper-middle class university student way. I just wish that eveyrone had the chance to challenge and broaden their world view to be able to better understand the diversity of the world that we live in.


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