I just finished reading Andrew Solomon’s article in Conde Nast Traveler magazine called How Traveling to 83 Countries Made Me Who I Am which is now filled with underlines, stars and circles. It was exciting to read along with an idea that I also believe – that travel and connection to individuals of varied cultures is not a luxury but a necessity. It might be the best way to develop a world view that helps solve global problems.
I believe in the necessity of travel so much that I founded a toy company that helps kids explore new cultures. It’s hard work, but worth it if it gets kids excited about new places and people.
I recognize it’s a struggle to get out there. I have kids but we’ve always taken them with us. My company is demanding but I travel all the same.
I lived in Egypt and love its culture and people but even I have found myself saying that maybe now isn’t the time to go. But just yesterday a friend posted photos of her trip to Cairo, of street scenes with people smiling from their shops and street carts, and although I’ve traveled extensively and should know better, I have to remind myself that people are GOOD. You have to go out there and meet them.
Yes, you’re taking a chance that you will meet the tiny few who are not good, but last week I was watching my son’s tennis match while federal marshals were arresting two bank robbers just a few blocks away. So, I’m not sure you have to go to Egypt, or any place else you see on the news, to find the rotten eggs.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the article. Enjoy.
“I have come to believe in travel’s political importance, that encouraging a nation’s citizenry to travel may be as important as encouraging school attendance, environmental conservation, or national thrift. You cannot understand the otherness of places you have not encountered. If all young adults were required to spend two weeks in a foreign country, two-thirds of the world’s diplomatic problems could be solved. Travel is a set of corrective lenses that helps focus the planet’s blurred reality.”
“Travel taught me how to relate to disparate people with incongruent values, and, thereby, how to be contradictory myself.”
“Natural instincts propel parents toward their children; natural instincts propel us away from strangers who are different from ourselves. Like all engagements, internationalism must be a rendezvous of human beings.”
“Yet it is in transnational civilian-to-civilian interactions that we find solutions to our disaffection.”
“Travel is not merely a pleasant diversion for the well-to-do, but the necessary remedy to our perilously frightened times.”
“In addressing the minds of my children, an urgent sense of purpose is renewed. I do not expect that they will settle the conflict with ISIL, but the knowledge that they are accumulating will broaden their intuitive kindness and thus increase the planet’s depleted stores of compassion.”
To listen to Andrew Solomon speak about his belief in the richness of the world and his new book Far and Away listen here.
Our World Village Playsets immerse kids in world cultures from wherever you are. Travel is ideal, but you can inspire curiosity about the world any time with World Village Playsets. You can buy it from our site or from Amazon.