Advice Journal

How Travel Transformed My Love For History

Years ago, you could find me daydreaming during my early morning classes. Quite like many high schoolers out there, I particularly found history courses boring. Foolishly, I’d call these classes old, antiquated, unimportant. “Why study the past? We should be looking into the future!” (Oh how much I regret those days!) No matter how engaging the professor was, or the relevancy to modern politics… I was jaded.

Flash forward 10 years later, and I’m studying to become a world history teacher. Yep, you read that right! This former history-hater is en route to becoming a teacher of the world’s past. What brought about this complete change of heart? I’ll tell you – travel.

First-Hand History

Travel completely transformed my love and admiration for history. It wasn’t until I saw the world’s ancient relics, its weather-worn battle fields, its monuments and temples with my very own eyes… that I realized just how crucially important historical education is.

I never realized the impact of war until I had heard the stories of locals, sharing their parent’s plight. It wasn’t until I witnessed a tea ceremony first hand to find beauty in its ancient practice. I’d never considered my own privilege or freedom until I walked through another form of life.

You can sit in lecture upon lecture discussing The Great Wall of China or the Taj Mahal – but until you see their grandeur, it’s all a game of imagination. You can read books on Vikings and seafarers – but until you see their massive ships and epic, native fjord lands, it’s all a figment of your imagination.

It’s a selfish and ignorant thing, isn’t it? It wasn’t until I gained my own experiences out there in the world… then I found importance in historical events. But, I think it’s important to acknowledge that in order for some people to grasp history – they need to observe, soak in and explore. And guess what provides all of those experiences? Travel does.

Classes Today Include A Traveler’s Perspective

What excites me about becoming a history teacher one day is the idea that I can bring experiential moments to students. Virtual reality, 3D glasses, Google Earth, explorations via immersive maps. 21st century history education is changing. And it’s becoming more immersive. It’s an exciting time to be teaching the world’s history because we can finally have students experience the world right in the classroom. (Even though, as travelers, we know that seeing something up close and personal is complete and utter magic! Baby steps, right?)

It’s my hope to create curious, compassionate, open minded, educated travelers of tomorrow. In my wildest dreams, I hope that my students leave my classroom eager to see the world. It’s my hope that they leave my doors knowing that the world is a wondrous, ancient place – an open book to read and learn from. They just have to go out and see it.

Has travel transformed your perspective on history? Or have your interest in history driven you to see ancient sights? I’d love to know!

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