Rick Steves, who has spent 120 days in Europe every year since 1973 and has authored 30 European travel guidebooks, brought one of the more extensive world travel resumes to Georgetown yesterday afternoon. Speaking at Copley Formal Lounge, the host of the PBS-TV series “Rick Steves’ Europe” discussed the role of travel in understanding the world and promoting a better system of international relations.

In his address, which was sponsored by the BMW Center for German and European Studies, the world travel guru emphasized something even more important than his travel tips.

“There is something much more fundamental about travel . that is broadening our perspectives,” he said.

His recommendation to the large crowd in Copley Hall: don’t simply travel, but become temporary locals and embrace the culture. Instead of succumbing to a travel culture of fear, Steves said he believes that travelers should be courageous and seek to truly understand different locales.

“I find that the flipside of fear is understanding, [and] when you travel, you humanize that,” Steves said.

Steves said he tries to reinforce this idea through his work in Iran, where he has recently traveled to produce a public television special. He began to develop the program when the Washington State chapter of the United Nations Association asked him to help promote understanding between the United States and Iran. The larger aim in this effort, he said, is again to promote cross-cultural understanding in a situation often lacking in it and explore the people and culture of Iran.

“I think it’s good character to humanize your enemies,” he said. “And if you have to bomb your enemies, at least it hurts more.”

Steves said he has been encouraging Americans through his work to become more involved when traveling and to foster stronger global connections.

“You come home and realize that we are 4 percent of the world. We are not exceptional. We are all on this planet together,” he said. “It’s time for America to engage the world.”

He expressed concern with a growing culture of ignorance in the United States about foreign cultures. However, at the same time, Steves said he is energized when travelers seek out locals and engage with them about what they are most proud of in their country.

Although he traveled all over the world, the focus of most of Steves’ travels is Europe. He said he has been very impressed with modern Europe’s commitment to solidarity and even their faith in a higher tax system.

“Europe is comfortable paying high taxes. They’re comfortable with big, good government. They aren’t just throwing money away; they have high expectations,” he said.

Steves noted to students the challenges of making a career out of travel as opposed to doing it for pleasure or recreation. He said there is a lot of hard work in this kind of travel.

“It’s tough. You just have to [go] out there all the time and be willing to do it for the teaching,” Steves said. “All I want to do is amplify my teaching – that’s the key to my business approach.”

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