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“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
International travel is one of the most rewarding and eye-opening experiences that is offered through Guiding, and it’s an opportunity that definitely should not be missed. As someone who is completely obsessed with travel – the new languages, working overseas, cultures, art, architecture, food and of course meeting people from such different backgrounds – I have always been a strong advocate for international experiences, and Guiding has allowed me to further enrich these experiences.
The motivations behind choosing to travel internationally vary from Girl Guide member to Girl Guide member, and no matter what your motivation, travelling always opens your mind, whether it is through formal or informal education. The only way we can expect to gain acceptance of other groups, other types of people, and to really understand how other people live, is by experiencing first-hand how they live.
My first international travel experience outside of family vacation was at the age of 14 when I was given the opportunity to go to Italy with my high school. This trip would kick-start an almost obsession with a culture that is so different from my own, a language that I always want to hear even if I can’t understand it, and an infatuation with art and architecture, which is currently the foundation behind the pursuit of my future career. Personally, being from a Pakistani background, the Italian culture did not seem that different when viewed from Canada, but the full immersion, even for a short period of time, opened up my mind, and for a few days I was in a state of disbelief that a place so different from home could even exist.
After that first international trip I continued to travel with school, and I travelled for the first time internationally to England and Ireland with my Ranger patrol. Yet again I experienced another culture shock, despite travelling to countries so similar to my own. The month-long trip with 14 other people, which sometimes included 10 girls sharing one room, definitely taught me a lot about myself, my group, as well as the city of London, where we spent most of our time.
Even though I referred at first to four months of volunteering at Our Chalet as a “trip,” now it seems so much more than that. Now when I explain my travels to Switzerland I do hear the terms “great opportunity” and “volunteer experience” quite a bit, and I’m sure it does look great on my resume, but travel is so much more than a tool you use to advance your career, or to get in to a great post-secondary institution. It is so important to be inspired, and travel is definitely something that will accomplish that no matter who you are or what you do.
I hope that anyone in Guiding will try to make travel a part of their lives even in small ways and for whatever the reason may be. It is such a significant part of why I am a Girl Guide and how I perceive our constantly changing world.
By guest blogger Mariam. Read a previous post written by Mariam for GirlGuidesCANBlog: Wearing a Guiding Uniform Abroad.