Why do it, it's so expensive? The kids will never remember. You would be wasting your money. Perhaps these thoughts have crossed your mind. I want to expose my family to another continent mainly for them to gain a mindset that people that don't act just like them, talk to just like them, and look just like them are uniquely wonderful. I want them to lean into the person with the accent. I want them to 100% know that they do NOT know it all. That the world is chock full of awesome that they will never fully absorb in their lifetime. I am okay if they don't remember the name of one historical place we visit.
We live in a downtown area with varied socioeconomic make-up. About a mile from our house you can find deep pockets of generational poverty. Through local programs we have served the homeless. Our kids have spent the night with us as overnight hosts for a local program that supports homeless families. They play with the kids for their parents to get a break. Our children have also packed meals for Stop Hunger Now to make a difference in global poverty. Locally we try hard to not only model how important it is to serve others, but to find ways for our kids to serve others. A benefit for me in serving others has always been to be more thankful for what I have, whether my health, my home or my next meal. I pray that this is a takeaway for my kids as well.
Our four kids are being raised in a small suburb of Charlotte that is full of wonderful people. They go to a great charter school. They love to go camping, to the beach and to nearby festivals. They have parents that are engaged in the community. They attend church. They play sports. They play in the creek next to our house. (It's more a city storm drainage than creek but they love it.) They go to camp for a week each summer. There is a LOT of focus on them. I want to provide them perspective that they are not the center of the universe. They are each merely one person in a huge world. One person going in a direction with God propelling him forward can make a monumental difference. My children must respect and work with people of all walks of life to be successful. What better way to help that lesson than to show them first hand that the origin of that accent that makes that person a little bit difficult to understand is a phenomenally awesome place full of adventure, beauty and rich history? I am out to help God shape my children into leaders that are empathetic to the different shoes that we all wear, by showing them just how different the paths can be.
What better way to take some of the teen-know-it-all out of your teen than to watch them try and order a meal in Paris when they have only had two years of Spanish. :) What better way to bond with your teen than to get lost on an adventure together? I figure we will get literally lost but I mean that more in a sense of being lost in the magic of Paris or Rome. My oldest two kids get nervous when we get lost or are off schedule. This does NOT bring out their best self. I hope they realize on our trip that one survives getting lost and perhaps that unexpected path creates something worthwhile on occasion. I want them to not only embrace the journey but seek out what is new and different. Perhaps they won't come back transformed, but I'm hoping their perspective will broaden to lean into the person with the accent.