When we first started ACIS in 1978, we had a very simple premise: Travel Changes Lives. The success of ACIS as an educational travel organization has always been based around this. All of the people that work with ACIS and all of our employees embrace that mission. As a traveler, I get to move freely throughout the world and visit many different places, immerse myself in a whole array of different cultures, and practice my languages wherever possible. I always feel proud to come home to the USA.
I have been a US citizen for over 20 years, and I received my citizenship in historic Faneuil Hall. Quite an amazing place to be sworn in. I had been given an opportunity and I took it. This country was built around an acceptance of immigrants. It was the promise of a new beginning, a new world. It drew people from all walks of life and from every country on Earth. A diverse culture of different religions and different languages under one great umbrella.
Our world has become more accessible – we think and teach globally, we espouse tolerance in our classrooms, and we learn to accommodate each other while at the same time being sensitive and aware of the need to be smart about safety and security. Above all, America has become a beacon of hope for people that are oppressed, a shining light for people who strive for a new beginning. Our flag has become a symbol for openness, tolerance, and cultural diversity.
As Emma Lazarus’s famous poem reminds us, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” This is inscribed on a plaque by our Statue of Liberty. This poem represents the philosophy and rules of conduct we all signed up for when we became USA citizens.
As a cultural, educational, global institution, we believe in “Bringing the World Together,” we believe in developing young people so that they can have a global perspective, and we fundamentally believe that this makes for a better society. Surely we all strive for a better world, a world at peace, a world of diversity, free of racism and inequality. A world of religious freedom. Prejudice has always been an enemy of progress.
Those of us who travel and cross borders without restrictions are fortunate. There are many perks to living in an open, democratic society.
To embrace and understand our entire world is key to a healthy and smart country. Our role is small but not insignificant. Working with educators from across the USA, we create global ambassadors.
I love travel. I love discovering new places and I love helping new travelers begin a journey to become the global citizens of tomorrow. Bringing our world together. Watching travel changing lives. Let’s not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.