The Matador community always has travel on the mind, of course, but as we gear up for our big San Francisco bash on August 16, we’re thinking more than ever about how and why travel are important as all proceeds from the party will fund trips abroad for inner-city students.

It seems appropriate, then, that I just received an alumni newsletter highlighting the work of sociology professor, Dr. Mike McQuaide, with whom I traveled on two occasions as his student: once through the marginalized communities of Atlanta with his social problems course, and once through the marginalized geography of Texas as part of a desert geology course.

McQuaide, recently back from a trip to Vietnam with 13 students, specializes in taking students far from the confines of the comfortable campus of Oxford College of Emory University to immerse them in local cultures around the world.

Whether leading students to the Amazon to learn from traditional healers or staying closer to home to meet people in forgotten communities and hear their stories, McQuaide always views travel as a means to make knowledge real… and to bring that knowledge home to make a difference. It’s the full circle of travel.

As McQuaide concluded in his reflections about the Vietnam trip:

…”13 more Americans are aware of the ways in which our decisions here at home have consequences for others, particularly in developing societies. In my view, this is one of the most important consequences such travel programs make possible — a clear understanding of cause and effect relations ….”

What travel experiences have been most meaningful for you? When did you take a trip that changed your life? Share your experiences in the comments below. And if you haven’t already, make your plans to attend the Matador SF party on August 16 or make a donation!

Photo: Mimi K