As we pack up our daughter's dorm room, putting everything in storage for the summer, and send her off to a summer in Germany, I'm grateful for all the opportunities we were able to give her to make her who she is today.
When she was 13 years old, we took a vacation in London and Paris, specifically to teach the kids what it's like to be in a foreign country (starting easy with an English-speakign country first, then moving on to something a little more difficult, language-wise). We spent a week in each city, and really tried to give both kids a sense of "you can do this". We hoped to instill in both of them the idea that going overseas is not hard or scary, and that if they want to, they can explore the world.
In high school, our daughter took two different trips to Europe without us. One was a week with her foreign language department int eh high school, for a week to Italy. And the second was a two-week trip through several countries in Europe with a concert band and choir. These two experiences built upon what she had already learned, and she came back from these trips totally comfortable with the idea of world travel.
Now she's going to Germany to spend the summer. She'll be living in an apartment near Hamburg with several other international students, and will study German language and German art history. At 20, she's old enough to be totally ready for this, and young enough to appreciate the adventure. While she's there, she plans to visit Berlin, Copenhagen, and who knows what else.
In part because of her travels, she is a better world citizen than most people I know - more knowledgable about world events and issues, more empathetic and more likely to support initiatives that are destined to address these issues.
I'm very proud of her, and very happy for her. And I'm so grateful to have been able to afford these opportunities to her.
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