Here at World Endeavors, the question behind all we do “why go abroad?” After all, it’s challenging, complicated, and can be expensive, so we need to know the “why.” What we know for sure, through firsthand experience and countless reviews from our alums, is that an immersive abroad experience can be transformational; but we’re always looking to sharpen our understanding of why travel is so important, and what we can do to maximize its benefits.
So when we heard that the 3rd graders at an elementary school down the street were delving deep into character study, we were intrigued. At the start of each school year, the students watch a film called The Science of Character. It’s based on insights from positive psychology, the study of what makes for a fulfilling life, and it explores how we can develop daily practice of character traits that lead to fulfillment. After watching the video ourselves, we applied this framework to our programs, and realized some fascinating, exciting ways that a meaningful abroad experience can strengthen character traits.
- Curiosity – This is one of the traits that’s shared by all of our participants and according to The Science of Character, one of the keys to developing a longer-term virtue: wisdom. Have some of your discoveries abroad given you new insights and opened your mind to possibilities? Do you feel like your curiosity has been rewarded and led you to moments of enlightenment? By practicing curiosity, we can develop a more holistic picture of ourselves and the world.
- Perseverance – The perseverance muscle gets a major work out on an immersive trip abroad. Countless small challenges arise every day while living in a new culture with a different set of norms, a different language, and different food. Practice using your set-backs as learning experiences, and redouble your energy to overcome obstacles. Remember to celebrate your triumphs – both large and small! – as you navigate challenges and develop more and more grit. (Image Credit: letitripple.org)
- Kindness – Do you remember being flabbergasted by the limitless kindness you received from a stranger or host family when abroad? Witnessing the measures someone will take to help you find a lost item, walk you to your destination, or maybe even provide basic gestures that bring comfort help illuminate how powerful kindness is. Giving and receiving kindness can also take you on a beautiful path to love, humility, and optimism.
- Gratitude – This just might be one of the traits that is proof of a meaningful experience abroad that has gone right. Many travelers who set out on a purposeful journey abroad develop a deep sense of gratitude for their own culture, for the culture of their host country and for the enriching experiences that connect people and change lives. In our opinion, you can never have too much gratitude.
Check out the video and let us know other character traits that naturally grow from a meaningful experience abroad!