“Seeing the sun come up in a new environment is transformational. Exposure to new cultures, ideas and realities is not a luxury, it is the one thing that can vastly change your perspective in a matter of weeks, days, hours, minutes.”
– Lois Kitsch I-CUDE
Over the past two decades, I have had the opportunity, though my credit union work, to visit six continents and almost 70 countries. This exposure has taken a drive-up teller from North Dakota to a global traveler who has experienced life and its joys and complexities in places beyond my earlier comprehension. These experiences have completely changed my life – created a richer version than I had ever dreamed possible. Today, I work hard to do the same for others – to create that same joy of building relationships in far and unknown places, to foster understanding of other cultures and to go far beyond the idea that “I am here to teach”.
Travel of credit union leaders and employees brings value back to the institution as well. Travel should happen for anyone who wants to broaden their career opportunities. For travel, especially global travel, inspires people to see people where they are – to examine issues that at home they tend to ignore. Mark Twain may have said it best when he said “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.”
Travel opens your views to new thinking in a way that no book or article can. You learn to see others where they are and accept their differences. Experiences help you look around and see what people need and what you have to offer to solve that need. Travel makes you vulnerable when you don’t understand the culture or speak the language but travel also makes you strong and resilient and able to manage unexpected change. In our country today, meaningful conversation needs to happen. When you have meaningful conversation with people from different cultures and hear and explore different ideas, you become more open to the beliefs of others – including in the work place. You can learn from unexpected places and even the most obscure idea can spark an idea that is relevant and beneficial to you and your organization.
Over the past three years, I have coordinated two visits to Africa and one to Asia for credit union professionals from the US, Caribbean and Canada. Most recently I worked with my business partner Mark Lynch to coordinate a visit of African credit union professionals and volunteers to visit Madison. One universal thing that I have learned from all four occasions – I felt transformed by the experience and that the experience brought true value back to me, my family and to my work. I feel certain that other travelers felt the same way. More importantly, I believe we all came back feeling we were a better person making all the planning worth the effort. Are you interested in broadening your horizon and changing (enhancing) your perspective? Come – join us on a global tour.
If you are interested in a global experience to Africa, Australia or the UK in 2020 please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.