Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mandatory Foreign Travel for USA Graduation

Our venerable host, Mr. Expat Teacher, has asked Gurufrisbee and me to take our discussion to a different thread than the one where it began, so I figured “Why not open it up to everyone in here?” Here’s the opening lines:

The Old Man: “I have long believed that a minimum of two weeks spent outside of the USA ought to be a high school graduation requirement. It would revolutionize our 'National Attitude" in one generation.”

Guru: "I'm sure I am one of the last people to ever be accused of thinking of America as the perfect country and I'm not oblivious to the conditions and realities of the rest of the globe - I just don't like to travel. And I don't get whatever the rest of you get out of it."The Old Man: “It's not about "travel," it's about perspective. And yes, Guru, you very much do "get it." But, you are in a very small slice of the American populace (especially the middle class) who do get it. For the vast majority of the others who grow up so isolated, so misinformed, so rarely considering the Bubble of Affluence in which we live... I think a couple of mandatory weeks "abroad" would radically transform the general American mindset about the other 94% of this world. (Do you "totally disagree" with this?)”

Guru: “If I can "get it" and not want to travel, wouldn't it be possible to travel and still not "get it"? We have huge issues and realities within our borders that most of the nation doesn't get - I'm not convinced they would get it beyond the borders either.”

The Old Man: “Clearly, some of these millions of American high school seniors would not “get it” - regardless of spending two weeks outside of the USA, but I think the vast majority of them would have their isolated, self-absorbed, detached, unrealistic worldviews greatly impacted. With enough of this kind of exposure I truly believe the attitude of so many Americans about our extraordinary place in the world would grow far more respectful, cooperative, and well-informed about the rest of the world. It’s not the cure-all for what ails everything about American attitudes toward the world, but I think it is a realistic way to significantly impact this problem.” What do you think?