Family international travel can be memorable and rewarding for parents as well as their children. It can also be expensive, leading parents to leave the little one’s with grandparents during big trips. No judgement. My husband and I have left our children with family twice to take a 10 day vacation across Europe. Nonetheless, international travel can be a life changing experience for children. Here are 10 reasons why we should consider letting them tag along every once in a while.
It can redefine their identity. One thing that has been life changing for me is how my identity changes outside of the United States. You really began to understand what it means to be American and the value of that blue passport.
You also begin to realize that "Person of Color" means something different everywhere you go. African Americans have a distinct cultural contribution to the world but so do other Black cultures. Blackness has many definitions.
Colleges love to see it. Did you know that only 5.9% of all study abroad students from the USA each year are African American? There are thousands of programs that allow students to study languages and cultural, or provide continued education within any given field of study.
Many Americans go to Spain each year enrolling in MBA programs that cost 3000€ ($3700) for the entire degree. Yes, an entire MBA program. There are so many opportunities out there that are not being taken advantage of. If you have any specific interests or simply want to travel, there are worlds of opportunities for students to take advantage of.
Build their perspective. It’s one thing to read about a culture. It’s another to experience it. Seeing something first hand allows you to form your own opinions and create your own dialog about the world around you.
New Experience. Isn’t that what we want most? We want our children to try new foods or experience something new. See new things. Meet new people. Learn something new.
Networking- not just for adults. The reality of today is kids need to broaden their horizons. The job market is different now and will be different when our children are older. They will not solely compete for jobs against those in their local communities. Give children the opportunity to become accustom to diverse conversations, situations and communities. We live in a global society and they will need the experience to compete.
Cultural and language exposure. A majority of the world speaks more that one language and is accustom to hearing multiple languages regularly. Exposing children to this makes them more aware of the world and can be a major advantage for their future.
Creating standards. Ask a child, “If you can go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” They say New York, Hawaii, Paris, Australia, Russia. When children visit these places, they are learning to dream, to create goals and to build a standard as to what they want in life.
They become ambassadors. Whether you realize it or not, when you travel outside of the US, you oddly become the representative of your culture. Even in the western world you will come across individuals who have never met a black person from America. Unfortunately, many pick up racial stereotypes from watching American television or from images seen on the internet. Traveling creates a dialogue with those you may encounter and shows others another perspective of what is perceived as Black.
Learning history hands on. I took my children to Madrid to see the famous Picasso painting, Guernica. Picasso painted this as an angry response to the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. My children stood there, staring. One said, “I could have drawn that.” The other asked when we were going to lunch. I tried by best to get them interested. They could have cared less. Yesterday my daughter brought me her history book. This exact same painting was there, plastered across the page. She said, “Mommy, didn’t we see this?” I smiled and was thankful my efforts weren’t in vain.
Write your own story. Many African Americans have left the US to embark on journeys that have redefined their lives. Authors like James Baldwin and Richard Wright. Singers like Tina Turner and Josephine Baker. Athletes, musicians, scholars, etc… The opportunity to create your own story is the greatest gift a child can have. Travel fuels experiences and broadens their minds to the possibility. No matter the age, you can start your own narrative.
Candice is an introverted extrovert who loves to read, wander aimlessly and is addicted to olives. Currently residing on Morocco, she is a photographer and loves to share travel experiences. She is married to the best husband ever hands down and they have 3 wonderful creations.