Every couple of years I get the urge to take students on an extended, if possible long-distance trip, preferably to places that they wouldn’t usually go to by themselves. I strongly believe that travelling is an indispensable part of any education, as only ‘on the road’ you will encounter your true self; only ‘on the road’ can you practice your skills of ‘survival’; and only there will you get the experiences that are essential to growing up to become a responsible, mature, and self-confident citizen and professional.
From 31 July to 11 August 2012 – for the second time since I moved to Hong Kong – I took a group to Germany. We spent 12 days and 11 nights visiting five cities, 15 museums/exhibitions, including two days at documenta 13. We additionally went to various markets, several churches, the German parliament, and even a zoo. We travelled entirely by public transport, stayed in small hostels, and had more sausages and potatoes to eat than the average Cantonese can usually stomach.
Yet, more importantly: On the first day of our tour, everybody was still pretty much a lone warrior, fighting by oneself with heavy luggage, steep stairs, and unruly train doors. Eight days later, we worked together effortlessly like greased clockwork, helping each other to haul luggage up or down station stairways, through narrow train doors, and in and out of trains’ overhead compartments. The lone warriors had grown to be an actual companionship.
It would of course be over-stretching the impact a two-week study trip can possibly have, if I’d assume that from our Germany-trip would spring any ‘life-long friendships’ or other such major outcomes; but I do believe that the experiences of this trip – especially the interpersonal ones – will indeed change and enrich all of our lives at least a little.