A few weeks ago, my husband and nine-year-old son took a long weekend getaway to Nicaragua. The purpose of the trip was to assist with a service project for Soccer Without Borders, which is a nonprofit organization that helps use soccer as a vehicle for positive change in the lives of young girls in Granada, Nicaragua (as well as other locations within the United States and Africa). The girls are provided after school tutoring, the opportunity to learn how to play soccer and chances to earn scholarships to pay for secondary schooling.
We thought it would be a good experience for our son to learn about the social, economic and educational challenges these girls face every day, practice his Spanish language skills, and, perhaps, make some personal connections via soccer play.
After coming back home, his teacher asked him to deliver a presentation to his 4th grade class about his trip and, given that he has traveled to 32 other countries, write an essay about how travel impacts him. Below was his submitted essay:
How Travel Impacts My Life
Travel has a huge impact on my life because I learn about other cultures, it gives me a better sense of geography, and most of all, I get to see how people live differently than I do.
I get to learn about other cultures, especially how women are treated. For example, women in Nicaragua are legally adults at 21 and men at 18. In Europe, women are treated like equals but not in sports. In Namibia, women are worshiped and are powerful. Travel helps me understand the different roles women have in different cultures.
It also gives me a better sense of geography. In Namibia, I saw first hand the desert terrain. On a drive, I saw many animals found in the desert like springbok, giraffes, and ox, but the most dangerous of all, the wildebeest. I felt the dry air and saw the plant life which were just trees and shrubs. Traveling gave me a real sense of what a desert feels like and see animals in their habitat.
I also get to see how other people live. In Nicaragua, it is a developing country with a poor water system. The people there I met during a trip mainly drank Gatorade and Powerade. They really needed it because it was so hot and sweaty there. They had to replace their electrolytes especially since they played a lot of baseball and soccer, which they call football. Kids tried to force me to buy things because they no longer go to school and need money for their families. At night, people would pull out rocking chairs in front of their houses and relaxed in the cool air.
For all these reasons, travel has really impacted my thinking by showing me how lucky I am to have what I have.