Friday, May 7, 2010

World Travelers as Public Diplomats

As many of us public diplomats know, travel is exciting and educational, it is also the best public diplomacy. Travel allows us to see other worlds, other cultures, other walks of life. I have often found, when traveling to another country, there was so much that could be learned from travel that cannot be understood from a book. Have you ever been to a country that was completely different from how you imagined it? In Israel and Palestine, I was surprised by people's attitudes about the conflict there. Lebanon, was not the desert of anti-American extremists some might expect, it was full of lush green forests and American friendly people. I know that travel has been a key part of my education. In the interest of promoting understanding and education through travel, Foreign Policy has added a new World Traveler section:

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."— St. Augustine
World Traveler
The value of international travel can vastly exceed its short-term costs; the benefits of exposure to a wide range of cultures and history are often profound and enduring. The past two years have brought financial challenges, and travel is often one of the first expenses to be cut from corporate and household budgets. But for many, trips to extraordinary destinations become some of the most memorable occasions of their lives.
This World Traveler sponsored section introduces readers to some examples of the experiences that are available—travel opportunities that not only change the scenery but also broaden perspectives and deepen understanding. This kind of travel is intellectually adventurous—it opens up cosmopolitan Shanghai and culturally rich Beijing. It encourages travelers to connect with historic events, like so many did in 2008 for Israel’s 60th anniversary and in 2009 for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It places travelers in unforgettable experiences, taking them from Peru’s metropolitan Lima to its ancient sites like Machu Picchu on the luxurious Hiram Bingham Train, from Costa Rica’s active volcanoes to its rainforest’s vast biodiversity, and from South Africa’s renowned Cape Town winelands to its wild landscapes on elephant-back safaris. Other opportunities combine education with exploration—for example, an immersion trip to the Middle East with the experts and world leaders who help shape policy. The variety of new travel experiences available today makes travel opportunities more accessible than ever before.
Click here for a PDF download of the section, or follow these links to explore the unique experiences featured in the first Foreign Affairs World Traveler: