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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.
i agree that international travel is the best part of a rangers life. it gives them an opportunity to learn who they are and who they want to be. my girls were planning a trip to orlando florida to walt disney world and i know your saying thats a theme park its fun what can you learn from that. if i didn’t konw disney i would agree but disney is so much more then a theme park and shouldn’t even be put into the same catefory. instead of just visiting one country like England and learning its culture and meeting its people you can visit ten countries and learn their culture and meet their people all in one place. you visit mexico, norway, morroco, germany, paris and so much more. you try new foods and learn what their customs are and how they differ from ourselves. also on a trip to disney you learn about the environment, about where technology started as well as where our first written words came from. you learn about animals from places like africa that are almost extinct and how you can help to preserve their habitats. there is so much to learn that it should be put in a category of its own and a trip that should be allowed for these girls don’t have much money even with fundraising. unfortunately unless i can get national to see this we won’t be allowed to go on this trip and the girls will be let down. i want them to experience travel and the joys of everything that comes with it, to meet new people and experience things they never even dreamed of.
Earlier this year, the Girl Guides of Canada’s Board of Directors passed a motion reaffirming the learning objectives of all sponsored or independent travel experiences. We have addressed this motion by writing an article for our members which will appear in the fall edition of Canadian Guider. We hope you’ll read it.