I haven’t read Newsweek in a while, but came across this article about globalization in this modern society. This article expresses well several points I have realized since my year of teaching English in Taiyuan.
1. Preparing American children for the future, which will be a global one if America wants to be prosperous, means giving them opportunities to learn about other countries (and their culture, politics, languages, etc.) other than America. It is not enough and very debilitating to learn only of America.
2. Traveling will open your mind. Being outside of a familiar context will challenge you to adapt and learn—challenges I appreciate in retrospect. The kind of traveling you do will also affect what you will learn: going to see museums in Italy versus taking a language course in China. One is more like a vacation, while the other is more of an immersion.
3. Being alone in an unfamiliar place can be lonely. No matter where you are, community is so essential. Even introverts like me crave meaningful relationships. I think this is a significant reason why people do not travel; their loved ones are here, wherever “here” may be. And it can be terribly hard to build a new community. But I can tell you that seeing the world is worth the risk of breaking away from your comfortable place, if just for a little while. If you’re young, family, friends, and even the places that you love will almost always be where you left them.
4. Even though I am not truly bilingual, I am grateful my parents spoke Chinese at home so I could learn to speak another language in addition to English. There are far too many monoglots in America; it is kind of a tragedy. To think that English is the only language we would ever need is small-minded and disadvantageous. If I want any future kids to be bilingual, I may do what the family in the article did: move to a foreign country and enroll kids in a bilingual or international school where they can learn both English and the language of the country they are living in.