In today’s hyper-connected world, our knowledge of world cultures seems to come easily, with little effort---from just a skim of social media, movies or TV. With a click of a mouse, we can learn about any country from the comfort of our own living rooms.
This gives us only a superficial impression, not a deeper understanding. You’ll hear people say that travel is the best form of education. In our experience at People to People---with sixty years of experience in guiding this passage---this is a truth that changes lives for our participants.
Words can only go so far as to describe the wonder that travel can inspire. Out of our element, away from the familiar, our senses soar. Memories are etched deeply; we absorb moments because they are happening for the first time. There is no sensation as real as gazing up at the majesty of a Gothic cathedral in Paris, tapping your feet in a music evening in rural Ireland, or hiking through a peaceful valley in the Alps. Or experiencing the warmth of family life in a Dublin homestay, learning folk dancing in an Athens school, or making pizza on a Tuscan farm. Saint Augustine put it best with his famous quote, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Learning about another country’s culture is something to savor.
What better way is there to experience the fullness of a country than by connecting to its people? People to People International’s goal is to connect people of all cultures and ethnicities across the globe. People are the heart of our mission.
When we live in a world that promotes fear and unrest through our media, a personal understanding of other cultures allows us to peel away our misconceptions. No matter where we live, we have been raised with some misunderstandings. It’s a sad part of being human. With our travel programs, you may find yourself surprised to learn that what you’ve read or heard about the world is very different than what you will experience. At the same time, many PTPI travelers return with the realization that, in spite of differences, deep down we are the same.
As Mahatma Gandhi stated, “Travel is the language of peace.” Here at People to People International, we send our travelers out to the world with the mission to discover the joy and complexity of the human condition, establish an appreciation for diversity, and to build real friendships---one-on-one, face-to-face.
To create a more peaceful world was the vision of our founder, my grandfather, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. As one of history’s most powerful generals and political leaders, he understood that peace comes only through understanding and mutual respect between people. This was his dream. We carry on that dream every day in our mission.
I have personally traveled to over 75 countries. What I learned along the way is universal: that people are basically good, that most simply want to leave this world a better place, and in troubled times, when the devil raises his ugly head, the angels soar.
I urge you to keep engaged with the world. Our mission, and your personal mission, is more important than ever. The only way to change today’s climate is to “Be the change you wish to be in the world.” In Gandhi’s great words we find inspiration. Remember, peace, like hostility, is a learned behavior. So teach peace.
Love and hope from
Your Partner in Peace,
Mary Jean Eisenhower
President and CEO
People to People International
Kansas City, Missouri USA
Peace through Understanding