By MORGAN STARK ’17
Going to a liberal arts university and studying journalism I am constantly having conversations about policies and issues that exist overseas. But coming from growing up in the U.S. as a white, female, who was born into a middle class family I have a huge amount of privilege. I am also surrounded by many people who have similar levels of privilege and background. Because of this it can be problematic getting into conversations about racism, poverty, marginalized communities, sexism, among other controversial topics.
Along with the fact that these conversations are limited by our narrow perspectives. We are also limited when trying to make decisions about foreign policies and international laws. According to an article in The New York Times by Daniel W. Drezner, only 5 percent of Americans vote in presidential elections based on foreign policy views of candidates.
I can’t help but to think the reason so few Americans are interested in these issues are because of our limited perspectives and understanding of the importance of the world outside our borders. Looking closer at the issue I think the best way to broaden our ideas past the borders is to actually move outside our privileged nation. We could do this by requiring every U.S. citizen to live in another country for at least 6 months. Ideally young adults would be using this opportunity to study, work or volunteer in another country.
Traveling and living in another culture for a period of time would push individuals to get out of their comfort zone. Instead of learning about a cultures history and people from a book, individuals would have the opportunity to learn history first-hand.
According to an article in USA Today discussing the benefits of educational travel for children, traveling abroad can give people a new perspective on history. This helps individuals see and experience the history and culture, rather than trying to understand it from the page of a book.
In addition to these benefits, according to an article on Relevant magazine’s website about reasons to travel abroad, Natalie Thomas highlights how traveling looks great on a resume. She explains how this shows future employers that you are responsible and independent. Also that you have the ability to adapt quickly to new and challenging situations.
Traveling and living in other countries would benefit U.S. citizens and help create a more accepting society. By creating a society full of citizens with worldly perspectives and a better understand how relative their privilege is would help minimize conflict in our world today. I would argue that many of our conflicts with other countries and cultures exist because of a lack of knowledge and understanding for other’s opinions and ideas.