This morning I did something that for the first time ever took my breath away…and not in a good way. My son is traveling abroad and I put him on the plane.
In our home, putting our kids on a plane is no big deal. For 13 years, my kids have been flying solo and have traveled to countries all over the world. My breathe was not taken away when I found out my daughter carried a machete in Ghana for protection and that one of the world’s most venomous snakes was killed in her hut or when my kids were denied entry into the New Delhi airport to fly home or even when I found out my child was ill in a third world country where there was no doctor within three hours.
None of these events ever had me worried or even close to taking my breathe away. All of these things I could accept as situations that would get resolved.
Today was different, very different…and I blame the current leaders of our country for that. The one place that is to support us, protect us and more than anything, always want more and better for the people of the United States changed three weeks ago, along with the world as I know it. I do not like to get political and I won’t, but I will tell you how I feel. I feel scared, angry, and embarrassed.
My son is a double major student in business and economics with a minor in Eastern Asian Studies. China is his main country of study and a country that has always been of great interest to our family. We find it rich in culture and tradition, yet progressive and innovative. A mix of the old with the new and the major cities are internationally populated with progressive thinkers doing great work.
When my son decided he wanted to study in China we were so happy. Then, January 21st happened and all of a sudden I felt our country’s relationship with China and many other countries around the world was forever changed. I did not feel there was a direct threat, but there was a tone I was not comfortable with. There seemed to be and continues to be not only a lack of understanding of the greater relationship we have with China and the world, but an underlying disrespect for these relationships that in some instances have taken years to cultivate.
With the current political environment and the administration’s attitude towards China, I fear for the relationship we, as the people, have with China. Deep in my soul, I believe that China and other countries know this is not the attitude of the majority of the American people and especially of those who travel to or work with the people. But, when the leader of your country is speaking this way, this mother worries.
But, I hugged Sam, kissed him goodbye, and told him to take full advantage of this opportunity. As he and my husband got into the elevator to head to the garage and airport, I turned around, lost my breathe, and started to have a full-on cry for the first time since my kids have left for an adventure. It was not that I will miss him…of course, I will…but, I will see and talk to him. It’s simply I feel scared, angry, and embarrassed and here are the reasons why.
Why Studying and Traveling Abroad Is So Important Today
The economic effect on colleges and universities who rely on foreign students for some of their funds.
We are not talking one or two students, but over a third of the total international student population. In an article in Forgein Policy, they state that in the 2014-2015 school year, Chinesse students added $9.8 billion, yes I said BILLION, just in tuition and fees. This doesn’t take into account additional money to local economies. Iowa City estimates that Chinese students alone contribute $100 million to their local economy.
How can our government not understand the importance of these funds to our colleges and universities? I’m not even addressing the non-monetary benefits of having these students interact culturally and academically with our kids. I’m just making it about money. How will our government make up $9.8 BILLION in tuition and fees for our colleges and universities and to the towns’ economies? I’m pretty sure I know the answer – THEY WON’T!
The cultural and social impact of not sharing our universities with foreign students.
While many other college freshmen pick who they live with “so they are comfortable”, we raised our kids to be uncomfortable. It is in this uncomfortable space that we learn and grow. As a result, my kids did not pick their roommates; they let the school pick who they would live with. During his freshman year, my son was paired with a Chinese student and they became fast friends and the benefits of this friendship went both ways.
They both learned so much not only about each other, but also about their cultures. If these students stop coming, our children will suffer. The benefit of the exposure to other cultures and ways of thinking only enhances our students.
Reaching the point when other world leaders say enough is enough and we’re afraid traveling abroad.
I know deep down that smart people around the world understand that the current administration lost the popular vote by over 3 million legal votes. But at some point, I’m scared there will be one tweet too many that will be the final straw for someone. I do not wish for any world loving world traveler to be caught in the middle of this. I am scared that some angry person around the world will take this out on a traveler. My child is a traveler in a country that the current administration has disparaged on more than one occasion. I may be scared, but I am also brave and let him go.
Reaching the point when Americans will not be welcome to visit other countries and will stop traveling abroad.
I love to travel and I love that our children love to travel. While it results in both cultural and personal growth, most importantly, I feel travel gives us a better understanding and appreciation of those we share this planet with; not to mention the environment, the wildlife, and so much more. With our leaders slowly upsetting one country after the other, how long will it be until we Americans will not be welcome to visit other countries.
As such, I will continue and encourage my children to continue to travel for an additional reason now – to spread the message that the current administration is not how we all as Americans feel. We know there is a true value to relationships with all the other countries and people we share this planet with.
Reaching the point when we become a closed-off society and stop traveling abroad.
I am scared this administration will strip us of the opportunities we have forever had and we have given our children. I am scared without safe travel and exposure to other cultures, we will become a closed-off, unworldly and uneducated people. Let us not go backwards, but let us move forward.
There are too many beautiful people in the world that we need to meet and learn from and they need to come freely to the United States to meet us. There are too many beautiful places we need to see and places in the United States people from around the world need to see. I am scared to travel in today’s political environment and I know people around the world feel the same about coming here. But, I will not let the administration take travel and opportunities away from me or my children. It may take my breathe away in a bad way, but I will get over that for the greater good.
Travel is about so much more!
Would you travel in a time of terror or to countries that the US Government has travel warnings on like Egypt? Would you allow your child to study there?