Encourage study abroad through family travel
We hear it all the time. Travel is good for you. Travel is educational. Travel offers new perspectives. As a former teacher and a mom, I am a big believer in travel as the ultimate classroom. Family trips can provide firsthand experiences and real world applications of skills like math, reading, writing, history and social studies.
What if travel is the key to long-term success for our children?
Ways to encourage studying abroad
To show their support for study abroad programs, the White House and State Department developed a new U.S. Study Abroad office, under the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (BECA). The new office provides resources to promote study abroad experiences in an effort to advocate for the benefits of study abroad. The administration also hopes to encourage destination diversity and move students beyond the study abroad hot spots in Europe and into countries like China and Brazil.
According to Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Department of State, over half of U.S. students enter colleges or universities with expectations of participating in study abroad programs. The reality though is that fewer than 10% of students actually do study abroad as part of their academic careers.
Why is study abroad so important? Ryan says, “It is crucial for our country’s next generation of leaders to travel, live, work, intern or volunteer abroad in order to gain the skills needed to understand and operate within the global political and economic landscape of the 21st century. It is in America’s national interest…to build and sustain a globally minded and internationally literate workforce, not just for government, but for private industry and society more broadly.”
Family travel can foster global citizenship in our children at an early age and establish a foundation for future study, work and service abroad experiences. It makes sense if you think about it. Traveling with our children plants a seed of wanderlust and the desire for new experiences.
The more we expose kids to a variety of travel experiences, the more they learn the skills that go along with being a traveler, like flexibility and respect for others. Of course some experiences are more or less global in their nature, but even taking the time to explore an area, beyond just driving through a town and reading a plaque, can model and foster curiosity in our young travelers.
Family travel can foster a love of travel in children and help them develop an interest in study abroad. These early experiences will build a base of confidence and adaptability, which can be a key to developing the skills and perspectives necessary for success as an adult in our global economy.
I know that traveling with my parents when I was young instilled a love of both travel and languages in me and impacted my decision to eventually study international affairs and Russian studies. My hope is that by traveling frequently — and deeply — with my daughter, she will embrace the world as her home and choose to study abroad during high school or college.
Study abroad resources and programs for U.S. citizens
- Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Exchange Programs
- The National Security Language Initiative for Youth and Critical Language Scholarship
- The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program
- Fulbright U.S. Student Program
- Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship
- Minerva Schools
- Young African Leaders Initiative
- 100,000 Strong in The Americas
- Chris Stevens Initiative
- Peace Corps
In addition, the Institute of International Education has partnered with BECA, other international governments and educational organization to develop the Generation Study Abroad program, which hosts several events throughout the year to encourage and educate about study abroad.
You may also enjoy:
- Tips to Help Kids Eat Foreign Food
- Tips for Vacationing During the School Year
- 5 Reasons Why It’s Important to Travel with Kids
- How to Encourage a Lifelong Love of Travel for Kids
Hilton Mom Voyage writers receive free night certificates to use at Hilton Hotels & Resorts worldwide. To learn more, visit our About Us page.
Our Hilton Mom Voyage team members live throughout the U.S. and have traveled by air and car all over the world with their families!