Monday, April 6, 2009

"Travel as a Political Act"

My recent research efforts on international education pointed me in a very interesting direction…to an article/interview from September 2007 (updated January 2009) in The Seattle Times with Rick Steves. I’ve been a fan of Rick Steves for many, many years and have enjoyed his shows and admire his support of PBS. In this interview, Rick Steves provides his perspective on the importance of travel as a means to mutual understanding. Here are some quotes from the interview that I found quite interesting:

“When I talk about travel as a political act I'm talking about how travel can change your perspective in a way that when you get home.”

“Establish a fund to pay for Americans all to have a free trip for six weeks, anywhere they wanted around the world upon graduation. It would be the best investment the world could ever make. Because right now an America that is threatened by, fearful of and misunderstands the rest of the world is a costly thing on this planet.”

“I'm saying if everybody traveled before they could vote, we would not be outvoted in the United Nations routinely 130 to 4. We would not go into wars alone. We would work better with the rest of the planet.”

You can read the entire interview with Rick Steves here. I anticipate many more IHEC Blog posts about Rick Steves in the future so stay tuned. In the meantime, you can visit his website here.


  1. Research at AFS found that students who participated in an AFS program in high school were more likely to have traveled abroad with their parents as children, and many good benefits followed, such as lower anxiety around people from other cultures and a higher level of friends from other cultures.

    Rick Steves' life and work show that people who travel in the way that he does, with a real interest in the cultures they are visiting, tend to travel more than once.

    Travel abroad is not enough by itself. Spending spring break in Cancun with other American classmates does not necessarily enlighten. Students who don't travel abroad, but who develop a friendship with someone from another culture -- say by hosting an exchange student, or volunteering to be a conversation partner for an international student who needs English practice -- may have a better learning experience.

  2. Betsy ~ Many thanks for your comments and for highlighting some of the AFS research results!