By: Adrian Ptacnik
Nowadays in different shape or form, every parent has a checklist of everything they wish for in their children’s personal and academic development. Parents want a good education, they want values they want discipline but they want their kids to be happy. There’s an ongoing debate on homework, team work and other polarizing topics regarding education, and there’s still one more subject that sets Mexican or American education back compared to that in Europe or Asia; I shall call it “the international experience: the next frontier in education”.
Just as parents struggle to make sure their children are as unique as they believe they are, schools also struggle to create an identity that sets them apart from the widespan of offerings. I have the fortune to work in a school where the internationalization of students’ academic experience is both valued and promoted and would like to take this opportunity to comment on the benefits it brings to children.
As a student my academic international experience did not begin until I was halfway through high school were my former school invited a group of students to partake in a tour around Spain. This was my first trip to Europe and needless to say a wonderful experience for the 17-year-old me. For a few days we traveled from city to city, this one particular day we arrived to a new city midday and were given time to rest. I was full of energy and resting midday in a brand-new city on my first trip to Europe was not an option. Without telling anyone I walked outside our hotel and found myself wondering into a nearby school. Before I could remember I was already inside a classroom and introducing myself to a group of Spanish scholars and their teacher. I was interested in meeting them and knowing about their school as much as they were interested in what had brought me to their country and city. By the time I had to be back in my hotel I had new Spanish friends who were also eager to meet more Mexicans. In the end, without any disrespect to “La Puerta de Alcalá” or “Del Prado Museum” that day remains as a highlight of my trip and quite possibly kickstarted my passion for traveling that includes academic programs in Canada, Monaco, England and Colombia this summer.
Today, as an academic coordinator I strive to introduce parents and children to international experiences. Since 2010, I have firsthand been able to witness the impact of these experiences in young children. I’ve personally have had the opportunity to travel with kids as young as 12 years old and see how much they learn and grow. Students exposed to other cultures become more sensitive, more intuitive, have a bigger and better sense of empathy. These are kids that are more creative, better at communicating and faster at learning. Travelling is an eye opening experience that provides children with unique opportunities that help them, become more mature, more independent, smart and quick decision makers, builds confidence and makes them more resourceful. People that travel see things differently because they live differently.
A student that travels becomes a global citizen, and that comes with an infinite number of qualities that is truly invaluable. Today more than ever, the question should not be whether to let our children fly, but rather how far we are willing them grow.
Adrian Ptacnik is a graduate from Monterrey Institute of Technology, the academic coordinator for Colegio Americano de Mexicali, a board member for Mexicali’s Private School Association and representative for Oxford Education in Mexico.