I want my kids to be...WELL-TRAVELED

I want my kids to be...WELL-TRAVELED 1In 1997, I flew halfway across the world to Bangladesh, a small country in SE Asia.

When I got off the airplane in Dhaka, I cried. The poverty was absolutely devastating. I still remember the children that greeted us there with their empty, pleading eyes and paper donation cups. Their dusty knees, bony elbows, and visible ribs were clear markers of the hunger and helplessness of their plight. I had visited parts of Mexico prior to that trip, but this...this was something entirely different.  This was the kind of destitution that led to death.

I want my kids to be...WELL-TRAVELED 2I stayed a month in that place, with a team of about 25. We built a school out of bamboo and tar, walking to the construction site each day in traditional dress, carrying shovels and saws.

There are a lot of things I could write about that experience. I was young and I don't think I even came close to grasping the complexities of the country's distress. Even so, that summer changed me. In insurmountable ways.

As I reflect on what I want for my kids, I think about how I want them to have opportunities to travel someday, to see the world...and not only in coffee table picture books.

I want my kids to be...WELL-TRAVELED 3I want them to be blessed with the gift of perspective.

Once you see a child with barefeet and a battered soul, you can't forget it. It stays with you, haunts you...toward change. It reminds you how much you have and what really matters.

I want my kids to see sorrow with their own eyes, to serve with their own hands - so that they will be motivated to make the most of their resources and their lives.

Conversely, I also want my children to visit the rich, the cultured, the educated, and the industrial countries.

Travel, as a whole, stimulates the mind, strengthens the spirit, and engages the heart. As such, I'm hoping that someday my kids have an opportunity travel the world, far and wide...preferably with me. [I just had a mini heart attack, thinking about my kids going to Sri Lanka or Singapore without me...].

YOUR TURN: Where have you traveled - with or without your kids? What have your travels taught you?

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11 comments on “I want my kids to be...WELL-TRAVELED”

  1. I think it is important to teach kids early how they can be successful by looking for opportunities in the third world.

    In the 80's my Dad dragged my family to third world countries every summer when we were out of school. We were on "vacation" but really we were looking for business opportunities. We went to the Congo to build a bauxite mine, we bought a used ruby and sapphire mine in Cambodia, and we built an aluminum smelting plant in Tajikistan in 1991 only three weeks after the country gained independence from Russia.

    I absolutely hated these trips as a kid. I would have much rather stayed at home and played in the summer tennis league, gone to sailing camp, or gone to a sleepaway camp like all of my friends. I really thought my parents were the most horrible people--making me trek through these horrid places! I hated the smell, hated the griminess, and most of all hated the throngs of unwashed people constantly begging or being in my space.

    It was really not until college that I realized what a valuable experience I had. In an economics class a professor talked about markets moving toward equality and in humanities, I learned of opportunity and resource hoarding. I realized that what my father had done was brilliant. Instead of rent seeking he was profit seeking and using his resources to buy cheap third world land and labor which he could then make vast profits off of by exporting. Even in elementary school--my father was using his resources to pass on his knowledge of markets and I was too busy thinking everything was gross to notice.

    Thankfully I learned to appreciate the third world. I still go looking for opportunities there--and last year I even made my daughter go with me to Malaysia--she thought it smelled bad and kept asking if I could either fly her to Singapore and pick her up later, or send her back home so she could go to horse camp with all of her friends.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Todd! I love that your parents gave you the rich and priceless gift of perspective via international travel...and I applaud you for following in their footsteps by taking your daughter abroad.

  2. Growing up, it was a big deal to travel even 3 or 4 hours from my hometown. Travel was never a priority to my parents. But when I was 12 (yes, just 12!) our school offered a trip to London and Paris, and my parents scraped together the funds to send me. It was the best gift they ever gave me.
    While I'm not nearly as well-traveled as I would like to be, I have, by this point in my life, been all over this country, to Peru and to Europe 3 times (once to study there for an entire summer!). I have also been to a border community in Mexico to help build some homes.

    Travel will be a priority in my family. My little one has already taken a trip to California with us. We're all flying to Chicago a month from now, and we've got tickets to go see friends in North Carolina in May!

  3. It bothered me when I went to the Bahamas many years ago! The taxi would take us through the area where the Bahamian people lived and yet they couldn't go in the casinos or places of business.
    Our youngest son went on a mission trip to rebuild homes in New Orleans. It taught him a lot and he has been a different person since being there.

  4. As always, what an amazing post. Every time I stop by your blog I seem to be more and more impressed. Love this series about..."I want my kids to be" Beautiful. Thanks for sharing about your travels, I've always wanted to do something like what you have done, but have not. I've only traveled primarily in to places of "western culture" - ie all over Europe. Our vacation to Belize was also eye-opening to poverty but not quite like your trip. Now with kids, I find it hard to imagine I'll make it to the places I have dreamed of - but I was an anthropology major and studied about it all so lived vicariously through my books. Travel definitely gives perspective and helps you reflect on your own life. And seeing poverty in real life makes an impact. We all need to realize how lucky we have it and that we need to donate/help others more than we do.

  5. hmmm travel. still planning and working towards a big family trip to different places of the world when my kids are older.
    i haven't been to many places and would love to share that experience with my kids.

  6. Perspective. Such a beautiful word. Such an important and appropriate word.
    For us, perspective is what we get almost annually when we travel to Mexico with Amore. I think it's important to have a regular reality-check otherwise it's just too easy to forget.
    In addition we spent a month with Mercy Ships. We worked and served and learned a lot because of the other people serving, however we were not on-board during a time when the ship was in Africa or Asia or Mexico.

  7. I spent 2 months in Taiwan and 1 month in China, and my husband spent a year in Taiwan teaching English to kids (mostly in the poor areas). We both agree that our trips changed our way of thinking about others, ourselves, and how much others need to know the love of God. It is a wonderful thing to turn your focus from yourself to others. We want that for our children too, we are hoping that we are able to travel for fun and for missions as a family as the kids get older. We really want them to have a missions-focused perspective on life, rather than a self-focused perspective on life.

  8. This is so true. As you know, I lived, worked, and traveled extensively in the world (as well as in the U.S.) It offers you a perspective of yourself and others that cannot be undone.

    I could go on at length about the benefits, but will restrict myself to one. While I would welcome wholeheartedly the opportunity to live abroad again (you hear that husband's company??!!) - and would love that for my daughters and our family - home will always be the U.S. For as thrilling and interesting and educational as it is to live abroad, I tear up everytime I go through U.S. Customs and the customs agent says: "Welcome Home."

  9. It truly is amazing how much the gift of perspective changes the way you look at your world and the everyday around you. I have never been blessed to travel overseas but I have traveled around most of the continental US and have lived in several different places. Additionally I was given the gift of perspective simply by belonging to a family full of diversity. It constantly amazes me how often that background sets me apart from others around me - how often it gives me the empathy needed to put myself in someone else's shoes. I definitely want my children to have that gift of perspective. If I can deepen my own perspective while I help them discover it for themselves through travel - that would be awesome.

  10. I have yet to travel overseas myself, but plan to some day with my family.

    My most memorable vacation in the US was to Portland Or in the mid-90's. I live on the east coast. My college roommate moved out there and I went to visit her. In the mid-90's the word green was a color in the rainbow, not a movement of conscious living, however out there, it seemed like everyone was living very consciously. My roommate recycled everything, took cloth bags to the grocery store, packed her lunch in reusable containers. It was a completely different way of living. It left an impression on me and I came back east with many new habits. For years, people looked at me weird at the grocery store, when I took my cloth bags, and NOW many many people take their own bags. At that time, my municipality wasn't recycling, so I had to travel to a recycling location to recycle my trash, and many years later, we finally got curbside recycling.

    It was a fantastic trip. We also did alot of camping along the ORegon coast. When I got on the plane to come home, I was in tears. But I will go back someday and take my kids.

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