OLSON: Through Travel, Bridge International Divisions
Past as Prologue

I have always loved to travel. My family has taken me on wonderful adventures around the world, and at Georgetown I have attempted to take every opportunity I can to explore new places and broaden my worldview. My travels have allowed me to appreciate the importance of inclusion and multiculturalism.

Last month, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected President Donald Trump’s travel ban against citizens from six Muslim-majority countries. In a 10-3 decision, the Fourth Circuit justices determined that Trump’s ban runs afoul of the Constitution’s religious protections and personal liberties. Earlier this week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made a similar ruling against the ban. These appeals courts seem to share my appreciation for free travel.

Through my travels, I have come to appreciate the differences between my culture and others. This past February, for example, I booked cheap flights to Iceland and, for approximately 58 waking hours, my friends and I toured the Icelandic countryside. I would never trade the experience of my Icelandic adventure, and I continue to take any opportunity I can to explore a new region or country.

Travel is also a tool of inclusion and the promotion of good will across the globe. Trump’s travel ban bars people who want to immigrate to this country to seek a better life for themselves and their children. Hatred and division are borne from misunderstanding and isolation. Without a globalized society, including extensive travel between different cultures and nations, there is no hope of furthering peace in our world.

Trump and his administration have argued that the legislation is primarily intended to promote national security. Trump’s revised travel ban bars citizens from six Muslim-majority countries — excluding Iraq from his original ban — in the hopes that a 90-day shutdown will prevent criminals and terrorists from entering the United States. However, the wide net of the travel bans punishes people with genuine interests in immigrating to the United States and assimilating into American culture. Our country was built on the efforts of immigrants to contribute and thrive in the melting pot society of the early United States. To enact Trump’s travel ban would be to forsake one of our country’s core values.

If anything, Trump’s travel ban hinders our national security by preventing different cultures from understanding each other, thus exacerbating our divisions. America’s diversity and multiculturalism, not reactionary and nativist policies, are what have made this country great. Travel is at the heart of the American experience. Without travel, and the understanding of other countries across the globe, there is no room for growth, acceptance and, ultimately, peace.

I intend to continue travelling to far-off nations and taking wild weekend trips to different countries: The more I learn about our world, the more that I can encourage people across the globe to give America a chance and to understand our culture.

In the fall, I am going abroad to Copenhagen. I have always planned on studying abroad precisely because I yearn to experience cultural differences. I hope to travel extensively throughout Europe during my trip, knowing that the more that I travel, the more I will get out of my study abroad experience.

In an isolated world without travel, where Trump’s travel ban is upheld and walls are raised across borders worldwide, people will never be able to understand their international counterparts. The human experience is varied and multicultural. The only way that we grow as a society is by welcoming new people and cultures. Trump’s travel ban is patently wrong, and we should follow the courts’ lead in rejecting division and isolation whenever we see it.

Grant Olson is a junior in the College. Past as Prologue appears every other Wednesday.

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