Beyond Borders, Blog #1
Last fall I studied abroad in Italy. During semester break I traveled solo to Spain, France, the Italian Alps, and Switzerland. It was the greatest learning experience of my life. It was a tremendous challenge to research and organize the trip. It helped me to develop my critical thinking abilities because I had to create an itinerary, and every piece of the puzzle had to fit: each connecting flight, train, bus, hotel and hostel reservation—all within a tactfully balanced budget.
I talked with people who had visited the places I was going, and inquired what their experience had been. Where did they stay? What did they do? How much did it cost? Getting feedback from other’s experiences was a great way for me to decide my own route of action.
Though, the best way to learn how to judge quality was to have the experience myself.
The longer I spent in a destination, the better I could judge the quality of the resources offered by that location.
My growth during my adventure was incomparable and exponential. My skills—organization, planning, communication, punctuality, responsibility, and awareness—progressed. Most of all, my confidence grew. Just as Davidson explains, students “can propel themselves to all kinds of learning as long as there is a payoff…in the sense of self-confidence and competence. Learning…is…an earned conviction that, faced with a challenge ahead…You can count on your ability to learn…It is about knowing that, when tested by the most grueling challenges ahead, you have the capacity to learn what is required to succeed” (85).
Now, when I fear anything—an upcoming test, a new bus route, a new dance class—I remind myself of my trip. I crossed international borders and explored unknown cultures without knowing the native languages, and found a way to survive, connect, and communicate. Now, I know I can do anything.
I learned from my experience that getting an “A” on a test is not the most important measure of my success. Rather, I agree with Davidson when she says, “Instead of testing for the best answer to discrete questions, we need to measure ability to make connections, to synthesize, collaborate, network, mange projects, solve problems, and respond to constantly changing technologies…” (127). Learning experiences go beyond the classroom, and we should encourage that expansion—to synchronize our classroom lessons with reality.
Yes, technology did play a role in the research for my trip, but I did not depend on technology while I was traveling. I journeyed without a cell phone or computer.
For our boss-project, let’s set our goal high. We should create a video project that impacts others, at a global level. With the technology we have (and a group full of creative, caring individuals), why not? We should brainstorm and decide on the topic of the project collaboratively.
Blog #1: Beyond Borders