“Brain Travel” – by Matthew Breeze. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
Over spring break I had the pleasure of going home and relaxing with friends and family. I thoroughly enjoyed the time and the relaxation that was available because of the break from school. Once I was home however I took a few journeys. First I went to India to view the vibrant colors and smell wonderful smells. I was surrounded by thousands and millions of people speaking many languages and practicing many faiths. I experienced conflict while I was there. Religious and political infighting that lead to confusion and violence.
Photo courtesy of NSR editor Jenna Algoo
After India I traveled to the deserts of North Africa and the jungles of Southeast Asia. I walked across sand dunes and rode donkeys as well as camels. The great sea of sand spread out and covered all the eye could see except a distant oasis that my party and I tried in vain to reach. The heat of the day was oppressive, while the cold of the night chilled me to my bones despite layers of blankets.
The jungle of Southeast Asia were a drastic difference to the dry heat of the desert. The same groups I was with in the desert searching desperately for was now surrounded by water. The very air seemed saturated with water it was so humid. Small creeks turned into rushing rivers with even the slightest of rains. Vines trapped friends and comrades as they walked. The vast expanse of land and sky in the desert was much wanted when trapped under triple canopy jungle where even night did not bring relief from the heat.
Though these travels seem far-fetched and impossible I did indeed travel to all of these places over a short spring break week. Books enabled me to see these sights, smell those smells, and feel those feelings. Through literature and a decent imagination I was able to travel halfway across the world and back. Reading can bring people to other parts of the world and enable them to begin to understand other cultures and people through reading.
Photo courtesy of NSR editor Jenna Algoo
Undoubtedly, traveling to these places in person would give a whole new level of depth and experience than reading about them in books. The experiences people have in both study abroad and tourist travels as well as any other travels have huge benefits! The flip side of this coin is that experiencing other parts of the world, or different cultures, through reading can open a person’s mind to a world they would otherwise not have had the time or ability to learn about. The experiences I had and the knowledge I gained through reading is beyond measure. I have never set foot in India or Morocco or Vietnam, but I have had the ability to learn and gain some experience of what it would be like to be through the beautiful and descriptive writings of others.
The emphasis that has been placed upon hands-on experiential learning and study abroad are wonderful, but that emphasis should not detract from what reading can provide. Students, scholars, tourists, and everybody in between can learn about other people and cultures from reading. That idea is what made National Geographic great. I am sure that all of you who read this have been shown a whole new world, real or fictitious, through reading. This can be Harry Potter or historical novels on the partition of India. Either way the world is created by your mind with the help of an author. This does not mean it is not a great experience or learning tool, on the contrary, it can be just as important as traveling and the cost as well as availability of books is much less than plane tickets and hotel rooms. Hands on learning is important, but experiencing a world in your own mind using literature can be just as beneficial if one is only willing to take the time to sit down with a good book.
Matthew Breeze serves as social media editor for The North Star Reports
Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu
See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports
The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).
For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.
Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.
(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu