By Jason Sahlani
History professor Arne Kislenko’s advice for students can be summed up in two words: travel now.
Kislenko and his fellow globe-trotters gathered last Wednesday as part of an information sharing session designed to teach students about travel opportunities. Tracey Haug, an Arts and Contemporary Studies student, Susanna Kislenko, founder and editor-in-chief of Legends travel magazine, and Gary Pluim and Rebecca Davidson, international workers and representatives of Youth Challenge International, rounded out the panel.
All said that university years are a good time to see the world. The meeting was to introduce a centralized online forum designed to aid students interested in travelling abroad. The soon-to-be operational site, created by Kislenko and Haug, will cover a range of travel related topics.
Exactly what will be available on the site was a matter of discussion throughout the evening.
“We’d like to demystify the idea that travelling is difficult or requires a lot of preparation” Haug said, before providing her own example of the ease of travel. “Two friends and myself left for Europe on a six-week trip and I came back (to Canada) seven years later.”
Energy levels in the room began to rise as each panel member regaled the wide-eyed audience with travel stories that ranged form the memorable (sleeping on roof tops in Turkey for a dollar a night) to the unforgettable (time spent working or volunteering in villages around the world).
Once the panel opened the floor to questions the audience was quick to provide the ideas needed to guide the construction of the online forum: What do you recommend bringing along or leaving behind? How do you conquer language barriers? What’s the security like in different countries?
How do you know if an area is dangerous? Where does you need a visa to travel and how does you go about getting it? While each panelist was able to answer each question asked with relative ease, the importance of the open dialogue was to gain a sense of what students would like to see discussed when the forum gets up and running.
The forum could go beyond travel stories and photos, the panelists said. It could act as an invaluable source of information, tipping new travelers off to cultural and religious “don’ts,” “hidden gem” destinations around the world and discussions of gender issues in certain regions and traveling as a Westerner in the era of globalization.