A big part of the work of Global Next involves the magic of travel. One of our primary programs is taking students and young professionals to international locations where we host leadership conferences. These conferences are held in places like Oxford University, Paris, Germany, Prague, Athens, Rome, Poland and Jerusalem. Each location offers a different and unique training program. We even offer an internship program at our location in Cairo, Egypt. (Find out more about our leadership conferences and how you can participate here.)
Every time we host these international conferences, I am reminded of the incredible life-changing power of getting people out of their comfort zones. Now, to be sure, travel can be full of challenges. Flights can be late. Strangers on airplanes will start conversations with you that can’t possibly be sustained for an eight hour flight. Hotel rooms can be small. Weather happens. But who cares!! You’re seeing the world – and there is so much to see, to absorb and to appreciate. So, I would like to share my top six reasons to pack your suitcase, grab your passport and see the world:
- Shedding your comfort zone. It’s funny how everything changes when we get out of our comfort zones. As creatures of habit, we tend to get stuck in the cycles and routines of our lives, and in the process, lose direction and purpose. I’ve seen it happen over and over again when someone visits a new place, glimpses the odd Colosseum or stands atop the Eiffel Tower – everything is suddenly different. The world becomes bigger and smaller at the same time. You think differently and you imagine opportunities differently. And that leads to the second item on our list: perspective.
- New perspectives. Perspective is how you see things. And we often need to see things differently. One of the projects that our groups engage in while on our international programs is a local interview. Together we chose a current issue or two, create questions, and go out into the local population to gain insights into what people think about what matters. Then we get together in the evenings and analyze our findings – which brings forth many conversations – and ultimately, new perspectives on life, people, how others think, what matters and what doesn’t. Nothing changes perspective more quickly than changing your environment!
- Learning. Studying any topic in a new country and culture allows new associations to be made, which increases the likelihood that you will remember it. Global Next may teach a few sessions on personality profiling, followed by a visit to Michelangelo’s statue, David, and discuss the famous sculptor’s personality and leadership style. Or maybe we will have discussions about global trends and cultural shifts while standing at the foot of Mars Hill in Athens – where ancient philosophers discussed their thoughts, beneath the Acropolis. It’s hard to beat the combination of truth and iconic locations.
- Knowing yourself. Sometimes travelers get off airplanes, look around and immediately begin to tap their heels together chanting, “there’s no place like home…there’s no place like home…” New things can be uncomfortable. But I’ve also seen travelers quickly absorb new experiences, become comfortable with that which is unfamiliar – and steadily gain an unexpected confidence. Conquering the world will do that for you! And as it happens, free from the routines and distractions of home, you sometimes get glimpses of who you really are – and who you can become.
- Good stories. Everyone who knows me knows my appreciation and respect for a good story. I think everyone should have a few good stories tucked away to share at parties or with friends, old and new. I have collected interesting stories through travel: Sitting down with a senior official of Hamas in Damascus, listening to bin Laden accounts in Yemen with Osama’s former chief of security, chatting with the press corp in Pakistan, talking with militants in Benghazi, buying a painting in Scotland. Yes, those are a few of my stories – and those stories are one of the gifts of travel. Stories enlighten, delight and give context to life!
- Relationships. Yes, the people factor. Global Next’s leadership conferences bring together remarkable people from various parts of the US (sometimes other parts of the world) for an extraordinary experience. The combination of learning opportunities, impressive locations, global perspective, good food, stimulating conversations, bizarre experiences and most importantly, potential-filled people, is an unbeatable blend.
As St. Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Enough said! Start packing! Everyone’s story needs to be bigger!
If you’re interested in learning more about Global Next’s International Leadership Programs, please click here to see our programs, itineraries and details.