I was blessed to grow up in rural Iowa as a youth. Unfortunately, I did not fully appreciate how lucky I was. I remember reading about far off exotic places and wanted to travel and live in different countries and experience different cultures. After all, in my view, not much was happening in the Midwest.
I was fortunate that I was able to achieve the goal of traveling and living abroad. Since my junior year in college I have lived in four countries other than the United States and visited several dozen more countries. I can truly say that I had great adventures and met amazing people. All my expectations of how wondrous the world is were verified and strengthened.
But through all my travels and experiences there was one thing I learned that I never imagined perspective.
The most important thing I learned is how great it is growing up and living in the United States, Iowa in particular. I may be a bit biased, but my wife is originally from South Korea and has lived in other countries as well. She is now a die-hard Midwesterner. When my wife and I started to have children, we knew immediately we wanted them to be raised in Iowa.
I never would have gained this perspective or deep appreciation for Iowa if I had not taken the opportunity to travel and live abroad. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to learn about other cultures. Travel not only brings a deeper understanding of other beliefs and values, it gives a more profound appreciation for one's own home.
With this belief in mind, Iowa Valley is offering the opportunity to take travelers on an 11-day educational tour to Germany and France from May 13-24, 2017. Six years ago, Ellsworth instructor Joerg Rochlitzer and Saxony's representative to the European Parliament, Dr. Peter Jahr, began an international student exchange program. With the popularity of this exchange, we would like to expand this opportunity to everyone inside and outside the Iowa Valley Community College District.
Expected visits include Strasbourg, France and the Berlin, Saxony and Munich areas of Germany. The educational tour will focus on the history and culture of the region, with a special emphasis on how the social/political environments have developed and changed over the centuries in central Europe.
For those who have never traveled, it will be the beginning of a greater understanding of both the world and their home. For those who are experienced travelers, it will add a more profound perspective of a different culture that is going through historic challenges and opportunities.
Space is limited to just 16 travelers, so if you are interested please contact Joerg Rochlitzer at 641-648-8634 or e-mail him at Joerg.Rochlitzer@iavalley.edu. The early deadline for reservations is Feb. 10.
Martin Reimer is Provost of Ellsworth Community College