What the world has to offer

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What the world has to offer

The city of Rostock, Germany on July 9, 2016.

The city of Rostock, Germany on July 9, 2016.

Hope Sickles

The city of Rostock, Germany on July 9, 2016.

Hope Sickles

Hope Sickles

The city of Rostock, Germany on July 9, 2016.

Hope Sickels, Staff Contributor

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High school students rarely have the opportunity to travel, especially during the school year. It’s important though, because there is more to life than high school and the Quad Cities. More people, if they’re able to, should take the opportunity to explore new places because there is so much to learn outside the classroom. You only live once.

Students may pass up the chance to travel somewhere different or somewhere they’ve never been just so they don’t miss a couple days of school. They are convinced to stay put for fear of missing a lot of lessons or tests.

That’s where the problem lies. They are missing out on so much more by staying put and choosing those days in the classroom. Hopping on a plane and exploring for themselves what the world has to offer is more of an engaging way to learn. Stephanie Risius said, “You learn so much about yourself when you step out of your comfort zone, away from everything and everyone you’ve ever known.”

There are so many different foods, styles, languages and unique people around the globe, but students often identify school as their main source of learning and information. “I don’t get the chance to travel as much as I wish to, so school is a great place for me to expand my knowledge on different places around the world. For example, Spanish class was a way to learn about places I don’t know hardly anything about,” said senior Abby Meyers.

I spoke to a Canadian woman when I was on vacation in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. She was 43 and was on her first vacation ever. She shared stories about lifestyles in Canada and I don’t think I would have ever learned those things if I hadn’t traveled. Branching out out the QC gives you the chance to meet so many different people from various places around the world. Simply sparking a conversation with someone from another culture gives you the opportunity to gain new knowledge from a firsthand perspective.

A quote written by Saint Augustine, a philosopher from Numidia, reads, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” I couldn’t have expressed it better myself. Our schools prepare us well for college and post graduation plans, but when it comes to international life, Pleasant Valley is lacking.

I think you can only read so much in a book or online — you need to see it, feel it, smell it, and understand it for yourself.”

— Stephanie Risius

I admire the fact that Risius, a Spanish teacher at the high school, spends most of her free time traveling and experiencing the world. She thinks forming your own opinions based on 1st hand knowledge and not what someone else told you to think is important.

I think you can only read so much in a book or online — you need to see it, feel it, smell it, and understand it for yourself,” Risius commented. She tries to promote traveling to students by planning trips outside the country every year, “I think kids need to travel just for travels sake. It breaks down stereotypes and opens up the world for them. We’ve gone all over the world: Spain, Ecuador, Peru, England, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, and South Africa,” she said. Risius has also recently added in more volunteer trips to Peru, now having planned three trips per year.

“Now with our volunteer trips, it has been quite powerful seeing our Spartans helping a community thousands of miles away and completely opposite of us. Seeing the change in the students who go is very overwhelming.  They are forever changed and if you want to change the world, you need to be the change you want to see.”

Risius added. Imagine a high school that educates all their students for life outside the United States. There is a private high school in New York City, called Avenues — The World School. They focus on preparing students for international life, not just for life in the United States. They hope their students will branch out and experience more.