College Credit for Shoe-String Travel?
Nick Kristof, a regular contributor to the op-ed page of the New York Times, recently encouraged American universities to offer college credit for the kind of independent, low-budget travel that puts young people face to face with the realities of the world today. This type of travel - outside the bubble, close to the ground - is far more educational and inspiring than anything that ever happened in a dusty lecture hall. Kristof is a role model of mine, one of the best journalists alive today. I'll post an excerpt from his college credit proposal below (which I found through Carl Parkes' Travelwriter's blog). It's an excellent idea - write letters, tell your friends - let's get this thing off the ground.
"Traditionally, many young Britons, Irish, Australians and New Zealanders take a year to travel around the world on a shoestring, getting menial jobs when they run out of money. We should try to inculcate the custom of a 'gap year' in this country by offering university credit for such experiences."
"So here's my proposal: Universities should grant a semester's credit to any incoming freshman who has taken a gap year to travel around the world. In the longer term, universities should move to a three-year academic program, and require all students to live abroad for a fourth year. In that year, each student would ideally live for three months in each of four continents: Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe."
Anyone unfamiliar with Kristof's work would do well to check out "Thunder in the East," a collection of articles from Asia that he co-authored with his wife.