It’s not often (um, or ever) that I get to be a part of national policy discussions. I mean, I want to. Just nobody ever calls.
This week they did. The White House invited the Top 100 Most Influential Travel Bloggers for a day at the White House and series of briefings by senior administration officials. I feel so West Wing just writing that. So I put on my best Olivia Pope look and headed to DC for two days. It became known as the White House Travel Blogger Summit.
It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE travel advocate and believe in the transformative power of raising our children as global citizens. JJ has been to Rwanda, not once but twice. Macie has been to Haiti multiple times. All of my kids have had their passports since they were babies and they are full of stamps from destinations as nearby as the Bahamas and as far flung as Mauritius.
This administration believes that our future as a nation in terms of global competitiveness is highly dependent on cultural awareness. The kind of awareness you don’t necessarily get from VISITING a country, but rather from living in one. They brought in travel voices from all over the country, from digital nomads to TV personalities like Samantha Brown and author’s like Pauline Frommer. Now I’m just name dropping. Shamelessly.
This is excerpted from the Wall Street Journal by Al Kamen (WSJ / December 9, 2014)
The White House National Security Council has got a lot on its plate these days: ISIS, Ebola, Syria, Iran’s nukes, an increasingly assertive China and, of course, Putin. But that doesn’t mean the NSC can’t tackle our nation’s other still-vital issues that are often overlooked: the pressing need to convince kids to study abroad. Apparently, the lure of hanging out at the Bocconi in Milan or the Sorbonne in Paris or Fudan University in Shanghai just isn’t what it used to be. So Obama’s national security team is hosting a three-hour “summit” Tuesday afternoon with 100 travel bloggers and and digital media outlets to “highlight government initiatives and discuss strategies for encouraging American students to study, volunteer and work abroad.”
So what to do? Well, the White House is establishing an office completely dedicated to encouraging students to study abroad. That’s a huge step. I think it shows a great level of macro thinking on the part of our government. This is the beginning of the discussion. Not the end. We were addressed by President Obama’s Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough. He took three questions, one was mine. I believe that if the government wants to encourage students to study abroad, they need to help the parents offset the cost. I asked if they planned to provide tax incentives toward this end. He told me it was a good idea, and taken under consideration. See, they should totally be calling me more often.
So follow along here as I keep you up to date on efforts to promote global citizenship and study abroad programs. For you young readers,and parents of students, check out the Virtual Study Abroad Fair.
Meanwhile, today we plan to break the internet with the #studyabroadbecause hashtag. Join the conversation and tell me, have you studied abroad? Why or why not? Are you encouraging your children to do so?
I didn’t study abroad but I did backpack for a summer, at one point I was traveling alone as my buddy wanted to go to Oktoberfest and I wanted to go north. Lucky me, a nice group of boys in Denmark offered to show me around-the bars.
To be clear, as the mother of four I could not have reiterated more that it “it’s all about the bucks kid, everything else is just conversation.” My fave Gordon Gekko quote.
If you are really interested in hearing every word of the White House Travel Blogger Summit-you can watch the YouTube video here. The back of my head being one of the best features.