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Foundation for International Cooperation
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Why do FICers travel?

By Irene Horst


One of the best articles I ever read on travel was written by none other than Rick Steves. His quote as follows made me think that he must be a FICer at heart: “Living life without traveling is like having a great book and never turning the page.”
Traveling, either domestically or in foreign lands, is a way to get to know friends and family that we haven’t yet met. Our global world is full of interesting cultures, ways of life, and people living within it. Of course we can help to build understanding by respecting the differences we find, and then come back home – happily –to celebrate the multitude ways that we are alike. Seeing them from a distance in our own homes, makes us appreciate the contrast that much more.
As Rick says, there are lousy travelers and good travelers. Lousy ones don’t learn anything. In my estimation, they look at all the inanimate items, buildings, museums, and ancient artifacts, which they could easily see in magazines or in videos. They might as well stay home because they insist upon having the same food, hotel surroundings, air conditioned buses to move around in and creature comforts that they have at their own doorsteps. Good travelers, on the other hand, bring back with them an understanding and feeling for folk on the other side of the world. In addition they learn about backgrounds and history of other peoples. In other words we learn why they are as they are and actually, learn about our own backgrounds as well, and what has developed us---we, who have literally descended from them.
We can even do this within our own borders, also. We are all Americans, but how different are the lives of the North Dakota buffalo ranchers from the Michigan Ave.(Chicago) 90th floor residents. Can we appreciate the folk who live in a fishing village in northern Alaska, as well as those Fenway Park workers in Boston? Travelers will somehow or other bond a bit with all.
At this point how many of us FICers can now start thinking about our own experiences in travel?... Remember when…. that Polish family gave two of us their bed in the one room of the two room apartment which housed the 3 of them? Remember when… we stayed in an upstairs bedroom over a store in Quayaquil, which had broken stairs and no hot water to wash? Don’t these experiences make us more empathetic to folks living under different conditions? Then there were times that we so enjoyed sitting in a Japanese living room learning how to fold origami to make paper cranes. How terribly heart rendering was the news weeks later of the earthquake that hit that home! Then came the pictures from our friends! How could that happen to them?
Traveling makes us better people---more understanding with a broader perspective on life. Shouldn’t we all be FIC travelers?

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