Sunday, March 5, 2017

25 Simple Ways To Develop A Growth Mindset


25 Simple Ways To Develop A Growth Mindset

1. Acknowledge and embrace imperfections.
Hiding from your weaknesses means you’ll never overcome them.
2. View challenges as opportunities.
Having a growth mindset means relishing opportunities for self-improvement.
3. Try different learning tactics.
There’s no one-size-fits-all model for learning. What works for one person may not work for you.
4. Follow the research on brain plasticity.
The brain isn’t fixed; the mind shouldn’t be either.
5. Replace the word “failing” with the word “learning.”
When you make a mistake or fall short of a goal, you haven’t failed; you’ve learned.
6. Stop seeking approval.
When you prioritize approval over learning, you sacrifice your own potential for growth.
7. Value the process over the end result.
Intelligent people enjoy the learning process, and don’t mind when it continues beyond an expected time frame.
8. Cultivate a sense of purpose.
Dweck’s research also showed that students with a growth mindset had a greater sense of purpose. Keep the big picture in mind.
9. Celebrate growth with others.
If you truly appreciate growth, you’ll want to share your progress with others.
10. Emphasize growth over speed.
Learning fast isn’t the same as learning well, and learning well sometimes requires allowing time for mistakes.


11. Reward actions, not traits.
Tell students when they’re doing something smart, not just being smart.
12. Redefine “genius.”
The myth’s been busted: genius requires hard work, not talent alone.
13. Portray criticism as positive.
You don’t have to use that hackneyed term, “constructive criticism,” but you do have to believe in the concept.
14. Disassociate improvement from failure.
Stop assuming that “room for improvement” translates into failure.
15. Provide regular opportunities for reflection.
Let students reflect on their learning at least once a day.
16. Place effort before talent.
Hard work should always be rewarded before inherent skill.
17. Highlight the relationship between learning and “brain training.”
The brain is like a muscle that needs to be worked out, just like the body.
18. Cultivate grit.
Students with that extra bit of determination will be more likely to seek approval from themselves rather than others.
19. Abandon the image.
“Naturally smart” sounds just about as believable as “spontaneous generation.” You won’t achieve the image if you’re not ready for the work.
20. Use the word “yet.”
Dweck says “not yet” has become one of her favorite phrases. Whenever you see students struggling with a task, just tell them they haven’t mastered it yet.


21. Learn from other people’s mistakes.
It’s not always wise to compare yourself to others, but it is important to realize that humans share the same weaknesses.
22. Make a new goal for every goal accomplished.
You’ll never be done learning. Just because your midterm exam is over doesn’t mean you should stop being interested in a subject. Growth-minded people know how to constantly create new goals to keep themselves stimulated.
23. Take risks in the company of others.
Stop trying to save face all the time and just let yourself goof up now and then. It will make it easier to take risks in the future.
24. Think realistically about time and effort.
It takes time to learn. Don’t expect to master every topic under the sun in one sitting.
25. Take ownership over your attitude.
Once you develop a growth mindset, own it. Acknowledge yourself as someone who possesses a growth mentality and be proud to let it guide you throughout your educational career.  
*this blog was originally published at TeachThought.com 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ode to Thanks. Oda a las Gracias.



Ode to Thanks
by Pablo Neruda

Thanks to the word that says thanks!
Thanks to thanks,
word
that melts
iron and snow!

The world is a threatening place
until
thanks
makes the rounds
from one pair of lips to another,
soft as a bright
feather
and sweet as a petal of sugar,
filling the mouth with its sound
or else a mumbled
whisper.
Life becomes human again:
it’s no longer an open window.
A bit of brightness
strikes into the forest,
and we can sing again beneath the leaves.
Thanks, you’re the medicine we take
to save us from
the bite of scorn.
Your light brightens the altar of harshness.

Or maybe
a tapestry
known
to far distant peoples.
Travelers
fan out
into the wilds,
and in the jungle
of strangers,
merci
rings out
while the hustling train
changes countries,
sweeping away borders,
then spasibo
clinging to pointy
volcanoes, to fire and freezing cold,
or danke, yes! and gracias, and
the world turns into a table:
a single word has wiped it clean,
plates and glasses gleam,
silverware tinkles,
and the tablecloth is as broad as a plain.

Thank you, thanks,
for going out and returning,
for rising up
and settling down.
We know, thanks,
that you don’t fill every space-
you’re only a word-
but
where your little petal
appears
the daggers of pride hide,

and smiles shiny like pennies appear.



Oda a las Gracias 
Pablo Neruda

Gracias a la palabra
que agradece,
gracias a gracias
por
cuanto esta palabra
derrite nieve o hierro.

El mundo parecía amenazante
hasta que suave
como pluma
clara,
o dulce como pétalo de azúcar,
de labio en labio
pasa
gracias,
grandes a plena boca
o susurrantes,
apenas murmuradas,
y el ser volvió a ser hombre
y no ventana,
alguna claridad
entró en el bosque.
fue posible cantar bajo las hojas.
Gracias, eres la píldora
contra
los óxidos cortantes del desprecio,
la luz contra el altar de la dureza.

Tal vez
también tapiz
entre los más distantes hombres
fuiste.
Los pasajeros
se diseminaron
en la naturaleza
y entonces
en la selva
de los desconocidos,
merci,
mientras el tren frenético
cambia de patria,
borra las fronteras,
spasivo,
junto a los puntiagudos
volcanes, frío y fuego,
thanks, sí, gracias, y entonces
se transforma la tierra en una mesa.
una palabra la limpió,
brillan platos y copas,
suenan los tenedores
y parecen manteles las llanuras.

Gracias, gracias,
que viajes y que vuelvas,
que subas
y que bajes.
Está entendido, no
lo llenas todo,
palabra gracias,
pero
donde aparece
tu pétalo pequeño
se esconden los puñales del orgullo,

y aparece un centavo de sonrisa.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The traveller's classic rites of passage

Travel: how was it for you? Did you ‘find yourself’ halfway up a mountain and come down a different person? Did you meet the love of your life in the lower bunk of a hostel dorm? Did you reach a destiny-defining decision in the back of a chicken bus?

Perhaps your experiences seem less melodramatic than this. But if you’ve spent any length of time living out of a backpack or a suitcase, there’s a fair chance you’ve chalked up one, some or perhaps many of a traveller’s classic rites of passage.

These events range from the trivial to the transcendental, the unpleasant to the wondrous. But whatever the details, they qualify you for lifetime membership of the tribe animatedly swapping notes at the crossroads – the airport lounges, the train stations, the hotel bars – where travellers often meet.

Here are a few you might recognise.

That special place
What? Just one? But you've been to dozens of special places; in fact, there's an argument to say that everywhere is special in its own way. True. But this place was different. It had nothing to do with how long you spent there either; maybe it was only a day, or just a few hours, but something about this city or wilderness or wherever got under your skin.
Moreover, it stayed there. You’ve hoarded countless pics of your adventures abroad and filled every wall, shelf and social feed with them. But this one – this special place – is the backdrop of the one in your wallet or purse or bag; a crinkled, faded image that you fish out and unfold whenever life leaves you looking for the exit sign.

And it’s the place you regularly return to in your dreams.

The captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign
Unless you avoid air travel as a mode of transport, you’ve probably heard this message at some point during a flight.
Technically, turbulence comes in three grades: light, moderate and severe. Light turbulence causes a plane to bob up and down by a few feet in a jet stream, but that’s enough to leave nervous passengers reaching for the barf bag. Move it up a notch and even the frequent flier brigade lose control of their lunch trays. Severe turbulence is so rare few pilots experience it during their careers, never mind passengers.
But even turbulence of that we-just-nosedived-10,000ft-in-five-seconds variety – you didn’t by the way; you dropped about a 100ft at most – represents no threat to the safety of the plane. Unless you possess Mr Spock-like levels of rationality though, the facts won’t prevent the limbic brain from taking over at the first shudder of wing.

The travel bug... not that one, the other one
You can exist on a diet of nothing but freshly peeled fruit, scrub up like a surgeon after every bathroom visit and refuse to touch a door handle until it’s been swabbed with an antiseptic wet wipe. But if you've spent significant time travelling (particularly in hot countries), the chances are you've already succumbed to travellers’ diarrhoea.
It starts as a gurgle in your gut, then swiftly becomes more ominous, as if an animal trapped inside your stomach has woken up, had a stretch and then gone absolutely berserk (at a bacterial level, this is accurate). Drink lots of water, switch to bland foods and see a doctor if it lasts more than a few days. Yeah, yeah; you know the drill. Other than that, you've just got to sit – add an ‘h’ for a more graphic image – it out.
Console yourself with this thought: in a few months’ time, you’ll be regaling family, friends and anyone else within earshot with the story of how the world once fell out of your bottom, as opposed to the other way round.


The overnight bus journey
If you have time, taking a bus is a great alternative to catching a plane. It’s cheaper, better for the environment and more likely to provide a good story. In some places, it’s also the only way to get from A to B. Bus-based rites of passage take many forms: babbling maniacs in the next seat, drivers with a death wish, livestock bleating in the aisles…
Crossing obscure international borders can be a lot of fun. One minute, you’re risking a herniated disc to find a comfy position; the next, a stern official is confiscating your passport without explanation. You won’t see this identity-defining document again for hours, during which time you’ll unpack your luggage for inspection three times, lug it over the border in 39C heat, then desperately try to relocate the right bus in a gigantic, dust-blown parking lot before it leaves without you.
That done, the driver will tee up a second showing of the dubbed action flick on the screen above your seat, thus banishing the prospect of any sleep whatsoever. Sixteen hours after setting off, you stumble from the bus looking like an extra from George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.

My beautiful launderette
It sounds such an inconsequential thing, doesn’t it? But ask a traveller who has worn the same gear day in, day out during a long, gruelling journey, and they’ll testify to the peculiar pleasure of fresh laundry. Sometimes slap-up meals, first-class seats and penthouse suites are mere fripperies in comparison to a pile of expertly folded clothes.
So keep your Michelin-starred taster menu, your flat-bed seats and your 1000 thread Egyptian cotton sheets; for few sensory experiences on earth to rival ripping open a tumble-dryer or sun-warmed bag of clothes, shoving your head inside and taking a deep draught of a fragrance markedly better than the smell of your own armpit.

The nightmare dorm mate
Picture the scene: you’ve survived the overnight bus journey from hell, found a hostel in your final destination and the bone-deep weariness in your contorted limbs is giving way to a zen-like state as you look forward to a proper night’s sleep.
Unfortunately, the sociopath in the bunk above you has other ideas. Just as you’re making the final adjustments to your eyemask and earplugs, they burst through the door, switch on all the lights and snatch up a guitar to strum the opening chords of 'Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door'. Bob Dylan gives way to their favourite playlist on speaker, followed half an hour later by an eternity of fidgeting, then snoring and – the final insult – the sound of breaking wind.
This will seem amusing in retrospect. Honestly, it will.

Breaking up and making out
Life is more vivid when you travel. Why? Because you’re leaving the known behind, entering the realm of the uncertain and experiencing the world in a heightened state of consciousness.
That heightened state can cast a fresh light on the only familiar object left in sight: the person who usually shares the sofa at home. Previously problem-free relationships can go pear-shaped in a hurry as the stress of the new reveals a side of them you’ve never seen before. And before you know it you’re heading in different directions, figuratively and literally.
The opposite is also true, though: for every relationship that has self-combusted, another has been forged through travel. Your personal rite of passage might be platonic, a meeting of minds as you and a new BBF (Best Friend Forever) bond over a shared experience. On the other hand, you might  end up combining sleeping bags for reasons rather less high-minded…



A moment of epiphany
Epiphanies don’t have to be life-altering to count; you can come back as the same person. Your experience might last just a second or two, but the magic lingers long in the imagination.
What does it look like? It's a fireball of sun sinking below the horizon as you watch from a hammock strung between two palm trees; it's a sip of ice-cold beer after climbing a mountain with burning lungs and aching legs; it's the unbidden generosity of a stranger who doesn't even speak your language; it's the Taj Mahal at dawn, the Grand Canyon at dusk, Tower Bridge at night. It's the sudden knowledge that you don't have to go home. Not now. Not yet. Perhaps never.
Whatever form it takes for the individual, it’s the moment when you realise that the world is infinitely bigger, richer and more mysterious than you ever dared hope.

Welcome to the tribe.

by James Kay, published by LonelyPlanet.com

Have you survived a rite of passage on your travels? Tell us about it @lonelyplanet.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Explore The Philippines


Philippines: An Island for Every Taste

In every family, there’s always an odd one out—and in the clan of Asia-Pacific nations, that member would be the Philippines. This nation of 7,107 islands (about 2,000 inhabited) began as a loose grouping of Indo-Malay tribes, which endured nearly 400 years of Spanish rule, then 48 years as a U.S. territory. Today the Philippines is a mix of tribal pride, Catholic fervor, American pop-culture savvy, and tropical affability.

Most visitors don’t linger in the muggy, traffic-clogged capital, Manila, but you should explore at least one of the Spanish churches in the old, walled center of Intramuros and stroll around Manila Bay at sunset.

Then head to some of the thousands of beaches, from the pink sands of Great Santa Cruz Island to the black sands of Albay. Divers off Palawan, Apo, and Siargao islands delight in hundreds of coral and fish species. On the southern isle of Mindanao, more than 1,300 land species—including the endangered Philippine eagle—reside in Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, which recently joined northern Luzon’s rice terraces as a World Heritage site.

If the Philippines is that quirky member of the family, it also is the one that always invites you over for dinner, a uniquely Filipino fusion experience that intermingles salty, sour, and savory flavors. —Erik R. Trinidad

Travel Tips

When to Go: November to February (during dry season)

How to Get Around: Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila is the main international gateway. From a separate terminal, Philippine Airlines provides connections to popular tourist destinations such as Bohol, Boracay, and Cebu. The main modes of ground transportation are "jeepneys" (shared, open-air shuttles built from vintage U.S. Army jeeps), motorized tricycles, multicabs (shared minivans), and buses. The most convenient way to island hop is by ferry; Super Cat, a high-speed catamaran; or bancas, traditional outrigger boats.

Where to Stay: Play and stay in, on, and above the water at Apulit Island, one of four El Nido Resort properties in northern Palawan. Guests arrive by boat and stay in traditional Filipino cottages (50 total) set on stilts above the water. Optional activities include reef snorkeling, cave diving, kayaking, and rappelling.

What to Eat or Drink: Manila's Midnight Mercato Centrale is a Filipino foodie's dream. Every Friday and Saturday night (6 p.m. to 3 a.m.) in the BGC (Bonifacio Global City), market vendors prepare a dizzying array of street foods. Try the Filipino-style bagnet (pork belly) strips, lengua (beef tongue) burritos, and lechon liempo (slow-roasted pork belly).

What to Buy: The Igorot ethnic groups, or Cordillerans, of northern Luzon are known for their carving, brass and iron metalwork, and weaving. In the mountain resort town of Baguio, you can find carved bulul (rice gods) and woven rattan baskets and pasiking (native backpacks) in the Baguio City Public Market.

What to Read Before You Go: When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe (Penguin Books; reissue edition, 2003) is a simple, moving novel set in Japanese-occupied Manila near the end of World War II. It's infused with Filipino traditions, legends, and history.

Cultural Tip: The equivalent of "How are you?" in Filipino culture is "Kumain ka na ba?" (Tagalog for "Have you eaten?")

Helpful Links: Experience Philippines, It's More Fun in the Philippines, and Cultural Center of the Philippines

Fun Fact: With its green meadows and steep cliffs towering over the sea, Racuh a Payaman on Batan Island appears to have been plucked from the Scottish Highlands and plunked in the northernmost province of the Philippines. The lush grasses are communal pastureland where horses, cattle, and water buffalo roam. This home-on-the-range setting is why Racuh a Payaman often is referred to as "Marlboro country" or "the Marlboro hills."

Monday, September 28, 2015

How to Become an International Teacher


By Heather Carreiro, April 19, 2010


While I worked for local NGOs and universities in Pakistan, my husband Duarte took a two-year contract as a Physics teacher in an international high school. By connecting with other foreign teachers in the school, we quickly learned that making a career out of international teaching would be an ideal way for us to sustain long-term travel and life abroad.

International vs. National Schools

There are scores of schools that claim to be “international” in name, but what teachers often call a “true international school” is a school that enrolls students from a variety of countries. These schools tend to be located in major cities, diplomatic capitals and international financial centers. Students include ambassadors’ kids, expat kids, teachers’ kids and local children whose parents can foot the bill.

Other schools may be internationally accredited but enroll primarily local students. Teachers refer to this type of school as a “national” school, although both types hire foreign teachers. Some national schools hire only foreign-qualified staff; others hire most teachers locally but employ foreigners for certain subjects like English. The ratio of foreign to local faculty at schools can vary widely even within the same country or city.

School Curriculum

When Duarte and I first moved abroad, we had no idea what O-Levels and A-Levels were. Since he was teaching in a school that offered both the British system and the American system, he had to learn how to teach two different curricula. International schools usually belong to one of the following systems: British (IGCSE/GCSE), American (often offering AP classes), or International Baccalaureate (IB).

Teacher Qualifications

There are schools that will hire teachers without formal qualifications, but to be a competitive candidate you need at least two of the following: a Bachelor’s degree, a valid teaching license in the subject you plan to teach, and two years experience.


In the U.S., each state has its own process for teacher licensing. Many undergraduate education programs provide routes to state certification, but you can also find post-baccalaureate programs aimed at career changers.



The majority of these programs require a one-semester student teaching practicum, a series of education courses based on classroom observation, and a set of exams.

Massachusetts is one state that offers a five-year preliminary license without requiring student teaching or the completion of special course work. You can apply for this license by passing two exams: MTEL communication & literacy and MTEL content area. For either elementary or secondary teachers it costs about $230 for the exams and $100 for a one-subject license. Your license is valid for five years of employment in Massachusetts, so if you never teach in Massachusetts it can remain valid for your entire international teaching career.

Job Searching

Most schools offer two-year renewable contracts, although some offer one-year contracts or require a three-year commitment from new hires. Prime hiring season is from January through April, although hiring is done all the way through August for the upcoming school year.



A lot of hiring is done at international job fairs organized by school placement organizations. At job fairs, dozens of school administrators and hundreds of teacher candidates converge in a major city for the purpose of lining up jobs.

The biggest job fairs are run by Search Associates, International Schools Services (ISS) and University of Northern Iowa (UNI). To attend a Search or ISS fair you need to apply and become a member.

Before the fair, candidates are given a list of schools that will be represented and current job openings. Larger companies like Search and ISS have online databases with detailed information about each school and salary package. The best way to prepare is to research every school, city and country that you might be interested in.

Once at the fair you will sign up for interviews with different school administrators. Between interviews you can go to school information sessions or network with other teachers.





Factors to Consider

Attending a job fair can be expensive, especially if you need to factor in travel and hotel costs. It is worth contacting schools ahead of fair season, in November and December, to see if you can interview via Skype.

Not all schools, even those listed by placement companies, are legit. Before applying for a teaching position, read what other teachers have said about it on International Schools Review (ISR). It costs $29 per year to be a member of ISR, but this will put you in direct contact with other international teachers and expat parents. Reviews posted on schools and directors are anonymous, so be aware that some feedback may simply be venting by teachers or propaganda by school administrators.

When you compare salary packages, compare the cost of living and the local tax rate as well. Annual salaries range from about $15,000 through $70,000, but you can live much better on $20,000 in India than you can on $40,000 in Switzerland.

European schools tend not to offer housing or utilities as part of the salary package, although many other schools around the world do. Benefits to look for include round-trip airfare, medical insurance, life insurance, free tuition for school-age children, daycare for younger children, moving allowance, professional development training, transportation allowance and retirement funds.



Final Tips

Look at the number of contract days and the number of teacher-pupil contact days required per year before applying. An average number of contract days is 180-190; this is the number of days per year teachers are expected to work. An average number of contact days is 170-180; this is the number of days you will be expected to teach. A few days more or less aren’t anything to raise concern, but I was once looking at a job in a new international school that required 250 contact days. Yeah, no thanks. I’d like to keep my summer vacations and my sanity. A side note said that teachers would be required to arrive early in order to create the school curriculum from scratch.

The teaching culture of a given school can vary markedly. Some schools are isolated; some are set in urban centers. Some cater to a young-single crowd of teachers while others prefer hiring couples or pensioners.

For Duarte and I, international teaching is a combination of career flexibility and stability. Once a contract is completed, we can choose to stay or move on to another destination. Currently we’re back in the U.S. pursuing further education, but we’re psyched to find out what opportunities the next international job fair will bring about!


Originally posted on
 http://matadornetwork.com/abroad/how-to-become-an-international-teacher/

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

100 Reasons to Travel

1. To experience the WOW factor






2. To escape routine
3. To learn about new cultures
4. To witness the peak of human adaptability
5. To create new friendships
6. To find inner peace
7. To gain a new perspective
8. To de-stress
9. To discover yourself
10. To broaden your horizons
11. To master a new language
12. To sample new cuisines
13. To dare to be different
14. To expand your professional network
15. To put your problems into perspective
16. To see the beauty of nature
17. To reach new heights in common sense
18. To explore your creative side
19. To gawk at the man-made wonders of the world










20. To taste freedom
21. To grow personally and intellectually
22. To feel alive
23. To realize that humans are the same everywhere
24. To hone your self-confidence
25. To view “home” with a new pair of eyes
26. To attend unique cultural, art, and music festivals
27. To participate in an authentic cooking class with locals
28. To make yourself more interesting
29. To formulate more informed decisions
30. To debunk myths and stereotypes
31. To strengthen your social skills
32. To watch 24 hours of daylight
33. To admire art from all over the world
34. To situate yourself in the broader context of humanity
35. To introspect and appreciate the value of solitude
36. To be humbled
37. To curate a group of friends in all corners of the globe
38. To buff up your CV
39. To instill vitality into your academic education
40. To know that your basic needs are luxuries elsewhere

41. To get cultured
42. To heal old wounds
43. To feed your soul
44. To observe different ways of living








45. To quell your curiosities
46. To inject life into the cliché: you only live once
47. To become a storyteller
48. To eat your way through the world’s cultures
49. To think globally and act locally
50. To improve your sense of geography
51. To test and push your limits
52. To delve deeper into your talents and interests
53. To live a life without regrets
54. To ensure that you don’t take all that you have for granted
55. To adventure through spectacular realms of nature: forests, jungles, hot springs, and mountains
56. To reflect back on your life with fond memories and impress your older self
57. To place yourself in the driver’s seat of our own destiny
58. To encounter the complexities of the world and be aware of plaguing global social issues
59. To invest in your mental wellness









60. To open your mind and eyes
61. To try a new job that you would have never thought to try
62. To empower yourself
63. To change your life
64. To stay forever young at heart
65. To bring out your adventurous spirit
66. To pick up a new hobby
67. To fashion new thought processes
68. To notice the charm of EVERY country
69. To rev up your sense of empathy
70. To sharpen your sense of humor
71. To inspire and be inspired
72. To revive your joie de vivre
73. To challenge yourself constantly
74. To meet the world’s population one person at a time and make it a smaller place
75. To interact with animals in the wild
76. To stop making excuses for things you really want to do
77. To seek the thrill of new
78. To breed innovation
79. To effect positive change, one person at a time
80. To forge long-lasting relationships

81. To document life and improve your photography skills
82. To inch towards becoming a global citizen
83. To face your fears and gain courage
84. To mature and become independent
85. To lead by example for future generations
86. To volunteer and help improve the quality of someone else’s life







87.To acquire practical life skills and become more street-smart
88. To support the livelihoods of local artisans and craftspeople
89. To journey through the seven ancient wonders of the world
90. To serve as an unofficial diplomat for your country
91. To relive history through landmarks, museums, culture, and people
92. To awaken and fine-tune your senses
93. To fuel the local and global economies
94. To visit certain destinations before they’re extinct
95. To evolve into a happier, more well-rounded, and better person
96. To determine your purpose in life
97. To venture into the unknown
98. To tap into your untapped potential
99. To bridge the gap between people, cultures, and countries
100 . To LOVE…















Originally published on: http://thecultureur.com/100-reasons-to-travel/

Saturday, December 20, 2014

5 Reasons to Travel More



Everyone is always ready to go on a new adventure. Whether you want to eat your way through a foodie mecca, immerse yourself in a new culture or explore remote trails in untamed frontiers, the new year is the best time to set new goals and take action. So, it probably comes as no surprise that at the start of each year, Americans resolve to travel more. Yet according to The Travel Effect, a study released by the U.S. Travel Association, more than 4 out of 10 U.S. employees ended 2013 with unused time off -- an average of more than three paid days forfeited per worker.

So, why are U.S. workers depriving themselves the chance to experience somewhere new? "A lot of Americans would love the concept of traveling, but they never made the time for it," explained Joe Diaz, co-founder of AFAR, a multiplatform media company that includes the travel magazine AFAR and AFAR.com. With a mission to inspire people to have meaningful travel experiences across the globe, AFAR also encourages (and grants a $2,000 annual travel stipend for) its employees to go to a new country each year. According to Diaz, stepping out of your comfort zone to visit a new place is critical, regardless of whether you're a seasoned globetrotter or a rookie traveler. "Travel is a great way to open your mind, open your heart and broaden your perspective."

With this in mind, U.S. News spoke with Diaz to chart the top five reasons to travel in 2015, along with some savvy ways to maximize those vacation days for your most enriching trip yet.


5. Because you'll gain perspective

To give underprivileged students the opportunity to embrace experiential travel, AFAR established the nonprofit foundation Learning AFAR, which organizes and sponsors trips for high school students. Trips can include everything from constructing a school library in Peru to ziplining through cloud-covered rainforests and spotting sea turtle hatchlings in Costa Rica. "I think Learning AFAR speaks to the heart," Diaz said. "If you can get young people out in the world, it completely changes their lives and the lives of people around them." But this doesn't only apply to America's youth. Sure, vacations can make us happier and more productive employees, but it's not just about recharging our batteries. Traveling can have a profound impact on your work will stay with you long after your trip, he added.

4. Because you'll be more empathetic

Travel doesn't only inspire cultural interconnectivity. As Diaz put it, travel "creates a culture of conversation," adding that people who have had the opportunity to travel tend to have a broader global perspective. After visiting somewhere unfamiliar, "you have this realization that 99 percent of people in this world are there to help you, not hurt you." Diaz recommends staying open-minded throughout your trip, and being willing to strike up a conversation with everyone from your taxi driver to your waiter to your bartender. That heightened understanding of a culture's people and their way of life will stay with you long after your trip, he added.

3. Because you'll embrace new challenges and passions

Traveling somewhere exotic allows you to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life and engage with your surroundings. And stepping outside your comfort zone helps raise cultural awareness and trigger self-discovery. Diaz advised asking yourself "What am I passionate about?" and using those passions to spark new curiosities and interests. "Don't bother taking the map. Just walk. Allow yourself to get a little bit lost," he said. By abandoning your fixed routine and schedule, you'll allow for spontaneity and experience a destination in a new light, explained Diaz. "It's the best form of education. When you can understand something in a fuller way, and make a more informed decision about things, that's what's going to make the world better," he said.

2. Because even short trips can be enriching

For the inexperienced traveler, planning a meaningful trip when you only have a limited number of days off may seem like a daunting task. But you don't have to carve out a week or a few weeks to reap the benefits of travel. "We always have to keep in mind that it's all relative," emphasized Diaz. "For one person, getting on a cruise ship might be the biggest trip of their life." Ask yourself, "What can I take? What can I afford?" and let spontaneity be your guide, he advised. By allotting yourself a few days to explore something that you're passionate about, you'll challenge yourself. Even if you're a novice traveler or a bit apprehensive, attempting something new and embracing a positive attitude throughout the process will enable you to "stretch yourself further," Diaz added.



1. Because you'll find fulfillment

Why are we inspired to travel? Travel exposes us to diverse cultures, perspectives and passions; and, ultimately, helps us become more engaged and enlightened citizens. "If you can walk out your front door in a curious, open-minded way, you're just going to live a more fulfilling life," Diaz said. Embracing the same inquisitive approach applied to traveling somewhere unfamiliar can trigger a greater awareness about different cultures and ourselves. As Diaz summed up, "Travel is not something that you do; travel is a state of being."

Originally posted on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/us-news-travel/5-reasons-to-travel-more_b_6348948.html

Friday, November 21, 2014

Happiness Around the World

This map shows the happiness of countries around the world. It shows the extent to which countries deliver long, happy and environmentally sustainable lives for their citizens according to the Happy Planet Index HPI

An interesting map from MoveHub reveals how happy people are around the world.

Happines Index Around the World

The new HPI results show the extent to which 151 countries across the globe produce long, happy and sustainable lives for the people that live in them.  The overall index scores rank countries based on their efficiency, how many long and happy lives each produces per unit of environmental output.

Each of the three component measures – life expectancy, experienced well-being and Ecological Footprint – is given a traffic-light score based on thresholds for good (green), middling (amber) and bad (red) performance. These scores are combined to an expanded six-colour traffic light for the overall HPI score, where, to achieve bright green – the best of the six colours, a country would have to perform well on all three individual components.

The scores for the HPI and the component measures can be viewed in map or table-form. By clicking on any individual country in the map or table you can explore its results in more detail.

Most measures of national progress put a high emphasis on the economic activity without too much concern for environmental limits or less tangible aspects, such as well-being. The HPI (Happy Planet Index) puts at the heart the idea that happiness is not necessarily about wealth, but living long lives with a high experience of well-being within the environmental limits of the planet.

The reason for some high-income nations to score significantly below other nations is the ecological footprint left on the planet. It is important to note, however, that the data does not take into account internal inequality measures and human rights issues tied to some countries which are high up in the rankings. Similarly, this map illustrates the differences in the absolute HPI score and does not take into account the differences between the variables that determine the score.