I was having an email exchange with one of the applicants to our upcoming program. Lets call her Cassie. As all the best applicants do, Cassie asked some really thought provoking and testing questions, she understood that the application process was a two way street. As well as us making sure she was a good fit for an Edumadic program, Cassie wanted to make sure that the program was a good fit for her.
One of the questions she asked was what we hope our Edumads get out of our programs. This isn’t something we tend to talk much about, so I thought sharing it might give a good insight into the benefits people tend to get out of our programs outside of simply seeing the world.
Below is my response:
“In terms of outcomes for the people that come on our programs, there’s a few major areas we hope people are affected in.
We want people to make real progress in whatever they planned to educationally. Without this there is no purpose in Edumadic existing. Everything else we hope people get out of this program can be gained outside of the framework of an Edumadic program. People achieving their educational goals online while living / travelling in different countries is the way we are going to change the world. As grandiose as that sounds, we honestly believe that if we execute this idea well enough, going on an Edumadic trip, whether through us or independently will be as normal as backpacking in 10 years time.
Although we don’t actively force people to study, we filter applicants with this in mind. It’s quite easy to see whether someone is serious about what they plan to spend their time doing in their application. The time on the program itself is also subtly designed to ensure people spend significant time studying. Participants tend to follow the pace / tone that Program Coordinators set for a program so we always make sure we personally have a good balance between work and play. Also, simply by virtue of staying in one spot for a month at a time means that you would run out of things to do if you didn’t study at all.
We hope that our programs breed independence in people, especially when it comes to travel. We understand that a big part of the appeal of our programs is that we are positioned in this place between organised travel tours and independent travel. A lot of our participants haven’t travelled outside of one or two week holidays. Catching a one way flight to Asia on their own seems completely insane to them and something they would never do. So being able to come on our program and have Program Coordinators on hand, but still have the freedom to spend their days however they want is really valuable. In running the programs we try to breed as much independence as we can so that by the end of the 12 weeks you’d be happy to book that one way flight on your own, and you understand that the world isn’t this scary place that people think it is.
At the start of our programs we give a lot more structure, suggesting lots of activities, inviting everyone to meals, checking up on people to make sure they’re settling in well and being very active in ensuring everyone feels included and isn’t sat in their room afraid to go and do things on their own. But as the program goes on people start to become more independent naturally, venturing off to explore on their own without us initiating things. Once they’ve seen how we navigate the worlds we live in, and we’ve shown them what to look out for, how to stay safe etc., people become a lot more confident, also with the knowledge that we’re still here to ask for advice or pick up the pieces should something not go as planned.
We hope that people understand more clearly their place in the world. One of the most valuable things I have learnt from travelling is that I am one of the luckiest people ever to be born. I fit into that category simply by virtue of being born in a first world country in 1991. I won the lottery at that point, without accounting for the whole boat load of other privileges I was granted that were completely undeserved. If you’ve spent your whole life living in the western world, it’s hard to really understand that, because you have no real reference point to compare your privileges to.
Spending such a long time in developing countries, you can’t help but notice how fortunate we are. If everyone in the world understood this, firstly people would stop complaining about their own lives, and secondly more people would feel inclined to do something positive with that privilege.
This particular lesson comes from just absorbing the world around us during the 12 weeks, but also through the big / deep conversations we have. There’s something about travelling and meeting new people in this kind of setting that promotes conversations about the big things in life, conversations that aren’t often had at home among friends. It’s these kinds of conversations where life changing revelations occur and people grow into new versions of themselves. It’s perhaps a bold statement and maybe a tad arrogant of us to say, but I don’t think anyone that’s joined one of our programs has returned as the same person with the same world views and opinions.”