There is an old Chinese saying: reading ten thousand books is not as good as traveling ten thousand miles. This is also the Chinese saying that the First Lady Mrs. Obama used when she visited Beijing University in 2014 to encourage the youth in China to go beyond their borders to experience different languages, cultures and societies. I would like to make a little change to this idiom and make it a goal for our MPA Warriors – read ten thousand books and travel ten thousand miles. Reading and traveling are two major channels for the youth to better understand the world. Reading gives people off-shelf knowledge that our ancestors concluded from their practices; traveling makes us experience the varieties of the real world and multiple cultures in our own way.

travelpictureTraveling teaches us how to change ourselves – we have to break our routine and get out of our daily comfort zone to face the upcoming challenges in the travel; traveling teaches us how small we are and how big the world is; traveling teaches us how other people live and thus enlarges our tolerance of different cultures by immersing ourselves in their culture, feeling their life, and breaking misconceptions; traveling teaches us about dreams and how to realize them. There is another Chinese saying: you cannot reach a thousand miles away if you do not start step-by-step (不积跬步,无以至千里). In traveling, you will strongly feel that you cannot arrive at your destination without accumulation of each single step. This is exactly how dreams are realized.  Personally, there is another big temptation to traveling: l can try lots of delicious foods from different places.

I read a blog in Chinese by an anonymous author whose nickname is Backpack Loafer. He/she used 26 alphabetic letters to describe travel. I don’t remember all of them so I filled in the blanks with some of my own creations. Travel is an Adventure, you need Bravery and Courage to realize your Dream. On your way, you can Experience different cultures, make more Friends, Grow, and broaden your Horizon. Travel is a worthwhile Investment which will bring Joy, Knowledge and Lifelong memories. In the journey, you will Meet Natural beauty, think about your life Objectives, take Photos which condense your memories, Quiet and Recharge yourself, and Share with your peers. All of these are invaluable Treasures. You will know what Union is among the heaven, the earth and the people by Visiting the World where everybody can find their Xanadu in the dream, especially when you are still Young. Lastly, travel is like our life with many Zigzags, but we can always turn them into cherished memories and keep them forever.

Reading is traveling between the lines while travel is reading the wordless world.

By Dr. Heng Zhao

Dr. Zhao teaches Mandarin and is the Academy’s Upper School Global Leaders Coordinator.