I am lucky to have traveled with 18 Doane Stuart sophomores, juniors and seniors to Austria this past vacation week. I joined the finest students and teachers as we learned, played and soaked in Austrian culture—and food! I am reminded of the value of stepping out of one’s comfort zone and into another culture or experience. To test one’s mettle with new experiences builds confidence and character.
Traveling stretches one in many ways. One sees funny letters or words on street signs; walks several hundred more meters despite cold rain and sore feet; goes into a funicular car despite fear of heights; any number of challenges face the young or old traveler. This group took a boat ride in a large and scary underground lake; slid down a wooden slide into the depth of a salt mine, and stood in a small snow flurry to see a castle in the Austrian mountainside.
Operating out of one’s comfort zone is good in itself and many lessons are opportunities. One learns cooperation and responsibility out of necessity–if you don’t get to the bus on time, you may be left behind and you undoubtedly will have inconvenienced others. On this trip we saw young students figure out the subway despite not speaking German; we saw kids cooperate with each other and protect each other, and we saw young people appreciate another culture and other people–including other tourists who were NOT well-behaved. This is a good thing we do for our kids.