The Power of Travel

A fortnight ago, I was standing on the Acropolis in Athens looking in wonder at the remains of the Parthenon and the Erechtheion, admiring the confidence and ingenuity of Pericles and the ancient Greeks who built these mighty structures 2,500 years ago.  It was the culmination of a three-week trip which had taken me and my friends across five countries, necessitating seven separate plane flights and a boat trip, numerous taxis, buses, trains and much, much walking (often accompanied by the ridiculously large suitcase I foolishly took).

While travel of any kind can test the endurance of individual travellers, international travel can be particularly trying. My small group of six friends experienced the following over three weeks; one theft of a passport, two incidents of lost luggage, one case of pickpocketing and one incident where a sizeable cache of currency, issued by a bank in Australia, turned out to be Czech Republic Koruna (not on the itinerary) rather than Croatian Kuna (on the itinerary). Furthermore, international airports are designed to test the patience of a saint. Queueing, security, removal of belts, shoes, jewellery, more queueing, flight delays, indecipherable announcements, gate changes, overpriced coffee and more.

For all that, the opportunity to travel, to expand one’s experiences and perceptions, is a gift. In the words of writer and humourist Mark Twain (1835-1910) Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry andnarrow-mindedness. Travel and particularly the opportunity to live overseas builds confidence, resourcefulness and resilience.

At a former school where I worked, students were invariably transformed by their overseas exchange experience. They would depart Australia often emotionally immature, highly dependent on family and their school friends and return weeks later, noticeably more socially mature and much more confident as individuals, having coped with often different languages, different foods and customs, different schooling systems and all at a huge physical distance from mum and dad.

Next year, Ipswich Grammar School is offering students fantastic overseas and regional exchange experiences through our membership of the Round-Square Organisation. Contact the Dean of Students, Mr John Chalvatzis to discuss the opportunities exchange presents to students of Years 9 and 10 in 2020. It’s an opportunity not to be missed.

Susan Shaw 

Dean of Teaching and Learning