|Transitions Abroad Magazine November/December 2002 Vol. XXVI, NO. 3|
Alternative Travel Guides
Back Door Travel
Program News & Notes
From the Editor
After the September 11, 2001 attacks I predicted that interest in foreign travel directed toward learning about other cultures would increase significantly. For readers of Transitions Abroad, my prediction was correct. A survey of our editors and readers confirmed an increase in plans for overseas travel, and my former colleagues at colleges and universities around the country reported that student interest in travel and study abroad increased substantially in fall 2001. Christine Vogel of AFS/USA was quoted in our January/February issue as saying that more than double the number of students made “a personal commitment to increase their understanding of the world and the people in it.”
To find out if last year’s commitment to travel to learn remained strong I spoke first with William Nolting, the Director of International Opportunities at the Univ. of Michigan. He said that applications for study abroad were up by 11 percent on September 11, 2002 over the same date last year. Applications for internships abroad were up by almost four times that amount, and Peace Corps applications were up 21 percent. Other schools I talked with had increases of 30 to 40 percent.
Since my survey of schools was too small to be conclusive, I went to the major student travel companies to ask how many students were traveling, for how long, and why. Bart Littlefield at StudentUniverse said that student overseas travel had continued strong throughout the year, with a 10 to 12 percent increase overall. While Andrea Piekarz at STA (Student Travel Abroad) cited no figures, she also reported that student overseas travel was up significantly across the board and student travel was “well ahead of the industry.”
The world and national news has not been good this fall. As our last issue for 2002 goes to press the U.S. economy is in steep decline, poverty is increasing, and the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. Meanwhile, Congress has approved billions of dollars in tax cuts for large corporations and subsidies for farmers. While the Bush administration prepares the country for another invasion of Iraq and distaste for the U.S. and its policies grows throughout the world, there is at least one bit of good news: U.S. students are going abroad as never before—not only to study and inform themselves about the people and conditions in the rest of the world but also to work toward making a positive difference in the lives of others.
—Dr. Clay A. Hubbs