Sending Your Kid Abroad Is Something All Parents Should Do

Study abroadMost of us — except folks who don’t have to empathize with anybody because they’re just that wealthy and powerful — love an underdog story. So here’s one that isn’t vying for headline space alongside Amanda Knox or the Wall Street protests, but is no less important.

I know a single father who’s trying to send his daughter abroad for an exchange student program but just can’t seem to get the money together to do it. She, being a none-the-wiser kid, doesn’t know that her dad is struggling behind the scenes. Like most children, she thinks it’s as simple as putting in a request and waiting for her parent to make it magically happen, some way, some how.

This isn’t like a pricey ticket to a hot concert or a $100 pair of Air Jordans. It’s a life-changing experience. Traveling is the greatest gift any mom or dad could give to their kid. It’s just the paying for it part that’s such a bummer. 

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I must confess: I’m a sucker for a single dad in need. There’s just something extra super special not only about a man raising his child — let alone raising his child on his own — but a single dad on a mission to go above and beyond to give his kid something that he didn’t have himself or something he thinks will make their life better. I’ve got a whole other level of respect for those guys. And this one has raised one heck of a daughter: Jazmine is mannerly and sweet, but she’s also a crazy smart straight-A student who was the valedictorian of her middle school class. Dad might be doing it by himself, but he’s sure doing something right.

I’m also a firm believer that nothing broadens your kid’s mind and gives them a thirst for what’s going on in the world like sending them ... somewhere, anywhere. Family trips to the mountains (even though I gotta admit that the Harris girls will probably never go on one), visits to relatives in faraway places, school field trips to different cities: they all give the younger set a chance to see what life is like outside of the little bubbles of their neighborhoods and local areas. So a whole other part of the world is a definite good look.

If more people learned factual information firsthand about how folks in other countries and regions live — and that doesn’t mean come with a whole heap of preconceived notions or an agenda to press our beliefs on people who live differently than we do — we wouldn’t have so many racial misconceptions, religious biases, and just flat-out stupid prejudices. Emphasis on the stupid part.

That being said, I really want Jazmine to get to go to Germany for three weeks. I want her to smell the air, taste the food, see the land, pinpoint the differences, make some cool friends. I hate to call it a chance of a lifetime because I certainly hope this sparks her desire to see more of the world, not reminisce about her one trip in her freshman year of high school in an Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite-like fashion.

I’m not one to ask my friends at The Stir for anything — or anybody for that matter — but if we all rally to help one kid out, we might actually end up helping out a lot of other people. What if Jazmine goes abroad and discovers she wants to study language or art or medicine? Master some obscure science or institute a long-awaited social revolution? The possibilities are endless. Not just for her, but for any kid who has their prospects opened by hopping on a plane and living with another family halfway across the world for three weeks. Heck, I’m excited about the idea and my butt's staying right here in D.C.

If you have a buck or two to spare that you’d be willing to put toward Jazmine’s cause, the PayPal address is getjaztogermany@gmail.com. Anything is appreciated — I managed to wrangle up $10 toward the cause  — but it’ll make a world of difference to a single dad on a mission. The classic underdog.

Would you let your kid travel abroad? Without you? In a strange country?



Image via Duncan~/Flickr

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