Lake Atitlan, Guatemala – I’m surrounded by lots of age 20-30 something Canadians & Aussies, with a handful of Europeans. They’re friendly, knowledgeable, confident and curious. There’s nary an American to be found. The ones you do see have hired guides and take taxis rather than walking and exploring on their own. I’ve had this same experience in Africa and other parts of Latin America.

Has the US poured its next generation into the jello mold of gotta-a-job-or-else?

These kids I’ve met learn more on the road than US kids learn in a classroom. They learn that, under the cosmetic differences, people are the same all over the world. They learn how to deal with the new and unexpected. They learn to deal with hardship in ways that most American kids don’t.

They learn.

They experience.

Life – unmediated and unchaperoned.