Feb. 3, 2016
This past Monday, Facebook reminded me that three years ago I was in Magomero, Malawi, snapping the above picture of those beautiful children. I captioned the photo, “Pure joy.” Immediately, in my mind I was back in that village with those kids. I smelled the soft rain that had sprinkled the dusty roads. I heard the squeals of laughter as I showed the kids their faces in my camera. I saw the gray sky over a vista that stretched forever. I could actually feel the pure joy in the moment three years later. It was an excellent way to start a Monday.
That day gave me a new perspective and opened my mind to a world I knew existed but had never experienced. I ended up there when I was assigned to travel to many far-flung places for a work project. What began as work became the experience of a lifetime that changed me forever. I know how lucky I am to have taken that trip. That trip showed me how fortunate I am in so many ways. My views were broadened; my mind was challenged; my heart was opened. These children, and all the others I met along my way, taught me more about life than I could ever learn in a book.
St. Augustine once said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” I’ve read a few chapters now, but boy, do I want to finish the whole darn thing.
One of the great things that students find at MSU is the opportunity to travel to new places by participating in a study abroad experience. The university puts a high value on the importance of producing global citizens who are prepared to make a difference in the world. Read the MSUTODAY FEATURE: STUDY ABROAD—Seeing the world. Changing it for the better to learn more about the program and watch a video of students describing the value in their own words.
Robert Montgomery is an assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife who understands how important different worldviews are. He spends a lot of time immersed in different cultures as he studies wildlife conservation. His research lab is also committed to training underrepresented students so that the future of wildlife conservation leadership will be a more diverse one. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Diversity is a Difference Maker to learn more about his work.
Elise Craig is a third year student in the College of Osteopathic Medicine who knew when she was an undergrad that she wanted to travel to Peru and provide care to people there. She accomplished that goal but made an even bigger impact. She discovered schoolchildren in the village of Carancas were drinking water contaminated with arsenic; so she decided to take action and find solutions. Watch the video and read more in the STUDENT VIEW: Giving School Kids a Chance to learn more about this impressive woman.
I realize that not everyone has the opportunity to travel. It’s not cheap and everyone has a busy life. But if there is a way at all to go somewhere — anywhere — that is different from where you live, just do it.
In my mind, it’s part of being a Spartan. Spartans take on the world with open minds, exceptional talents and a hunger to change it for the better. So get out there. Be open to new places, people, cultures and experiences. You’ll thank me for it.