At the annual Educational Travel Community (ETC) Conference, our Group Travel Team had the wonderful pleasure of listening to a very powerful and moving keynote address given by Wade Davis. Davis, a cultural anthropologist and ethnobotanist, has been named by National Geographic Society as one of the “Explorers for the Millennium.” Davis has been described as “a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet and passionate defender of all of life’s diversity”—and it’s no surprise why.
During his talk, Davis went into detail about his passion for living with, studying and appreciating “those who have not forgotten the old ways,” like Jaguar shamans, Inuit elders and Buddhists living in the Himalayas. By traveling to the most remote parts of the world and fully immersing himself in the local tribes and culture, Davis learned how indigenous people welcome and live with the diversity of the world.
His words strongly resonated with us, as experiential learning is one of the core principles on which EF Education First and Go Ahead were founded. By developing our tour itineraries with this principle in mind, we have been able to help travelers not only see the world, but truly experience it. Alex, our Senior Customized Tour Specialist, knows exactly what Davis means after visiting a local Masai tribe with her group on our Kenya Wildlife Safari and learning about the Urubamba community on our tour of Peru.
In the Masai Mara, Alex’s group was taken around the village by the local Masai warriors who welcomed travelers into their homes, showed them local dances and provided background on their traditions and practices. “The reason that I fell in love with Kenya was the wonderful Kenyans whom we met while on the tour,” Alex explains. “From the local tour guides to the staff at the hotels to the villagers we met in the Masai Mara, everyone was very warm and welcoming.”
Similarly, on her tour of Peru, the connection with the indigenous people is what stuck out in Alex’s mind as a highlight of the trip. Her group visited a school in Urubamba to meet and spend time with the children. Later, each traveler was individually paired with an older mamita who showed them how the tribe harvests local staples and creates the crafts they sell to support their local community.
“At the end of our trip, each person in our group shared the highlight of their tour, and it was almost unanimous that the day we spent visiting a school in the Sacred Valley along with the time we spent with our mamitas in Urubamba was the most special,” Alex says.
Immersive experiences such as these open our minds to other cultures and, as Davis says, “give us a new vision of life itself.” For our team here at Go Ahead, the answer to Davis’s question of “What kind of world do we want to live in—a world of monotones or a world of poly-chromatic diversity?” is an easy one. There’s no place we’d rather be than in a world full of new cultures to explore and people to meet.
Want to plan an immersive experience for you and your alumni groups? Give our team a call at 1.800.438.7672.