At Xperitas, we aren’t in the business of sending students on “trips”. Our mission is to transform lives through shared global experience and intercultural learning. What does it take for travel abroad to be transformational? It needs to be an experience that pushes students beyond their comfort zone, challenges them to confront their assumptions about the world and allows them to see themselves and others from a different perspective.
This transformation doesn’t happen by accident, and it doesn’t happen by simply traveling abroad. It takes a very carefully planned and executed program, a dedicated and skilled language teacher who prepares students for the experience and reflects with them during and after, and students with the willingness to open their hearts and minds to new ways of thinking and doing.
If done properly, the return on investment is big. Students return with increased self-confidence that sets them on a path for future academic, professional and personal success. They increase their language fluency and can use the language in real life situations with native speakers. Through this interaction they realize that their beliefs about the world are the result of a specific cultural upbringing, that their world view is one perspective of many, and that there is a delicious richness in understanding the perspective of people from different cultures. Of course, our students don’t say it like this. Here’s how they express it:
“That trip is probably the first big catalyst event in my life.”
“I don’t know where I would be in life if I hadn’t had the chance to take that trip in 1998, but I know it would be a much smaller world.”
“I can understand so much more [Spanish], and I can speak a lot more”
“This trip changed the way I see the world. It really opens your eyes to something you could never really understand unless you go do it.”
“The family stay is amazing to connect with new people and their culture and really understand what it’s like to live in France.”
“I think that their family time, maybe [French people] value that more. In the U.S. it seems like we’re always so rushed, but here family time is very important.”
“I will always remember this trip. I think when I’m older I’ll tell my children about this and encourage them to try new things and go places.”
“I’m more comfortable to go up to people and introduce myself because I’ve done it in different languages.”
“It just opens up your eyes to how big the world is.”
I invite you to read on. Read this beautiful post by Brad Carnine, a French student who traveled with Xperitas and his teacher Jane Ditewig in 1998. Brad reached out to Jane a few months ago to reconnect and to make sure that she knew how important and impactful that language immersion experience was in his life.
Following a very light 2022 travel season, we at Xperitas are thrilled to see the large number of schools that will be traveling with us in 2023. Since our founding in 1972, Xperitas has provided transformational experiences to over one hundred thousand students, and we have awarded over one million dollars in financial aid to make our programs accessible. We look forward to seeing these numbers grow and to continuing to make the world a better place by connecting hearts, minds and lives.