Without question, the benefit I have received traveling around the world has far exceeded the education I've gotten in college or beyond. There is no textbook that can replace actually experiencing a country as a local would. And the more of the world you see, the harder it is to see differences and borders dividing us. When I read this Sunday morning, I thought this would be an absolutely wonderful, life-changing experience.
NY Times (reg. req'd.)
I often hear comments from readers like: "It's tragic over there, but we've got our own problems that we have to solve first." Nobody who has held the hand of a starving African child could be that dismissive.
That lack of firsthand experience abroad also helps explain why we are so awful at foreign policy: we just don't "get" how our actions will be perceived abroad, so time and again - in Vietnam, China, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Latin America - we end up clumsily empowering our enemies.[..]
So I'm now putting my company's money where my mouth is.
On Tuesday, in partnership with MySpace.com, The New York Times and I will announce a second annual "win a trip" contest to choose a university student to travel with me on a reporting trip to Africa. And this year, in addition to a student, I'll choose a schoolteacher - from a middle school or high school - to accompany me as well. We'll probably travel together to Rwanda, Burundi and Congo.[..]
If you win the trip, you won't be practicing tourism, but journalism. You'll blog and prepare videos for the New York Times and MySpace Web sites. I'm betting that you'll be able to connect with young readers and viewers - and galvanize them to care about these issues - in a way that I can't.
So please spread the word about the contest. Rules and applications will be posted Tuesday at www.nytimes.com/winatrip and at www.myspace.com/kristofontheground.
And for those who apply but don't win, go anyway on your own. You'll learn more than you ever would from an equivalent period in the classroom.