Editor’s note: The following statement was written by Peter Jones, President of ACIS. Encore Tours is the performance division of ACIS, a leader in educational travel since 1978.
At ACIS, we have always been driven by the mission that travel and education are a powerful combination. Each year, we see our young students mature and grow as they embark on new adventures that will fundamentally change their outlook and their lives. But the world that we saw unravel over the last two weeks showed a different side of America. A reminder to all of us that our history has blemishes, injustices, and shame. Demonstrations across the USA against police brutality and racism were voices that needed to be heard. The shocking images of George Floyd’s death was another reminder that we have many, many miles to travel in the landscape of racial equality.
What do we tell our kids and our grandchildren? What do we teach our students in school when a police department in Minneapolis, and in too many communities across the country, cannot provide the decency and respect that every human life requires? How do we believe that justice will ever be served? How many more weeks and years do we have to see these disgraceful episodes of racism take place before we address this issue?
The optimist in me likes to think that this was a turning point. That somebody lost his life and yet gave us all hope that something will change. The pessimist in me said that this was an all too familiar occurrence. In our business, we are fortunate. We work with teachers on a daily basis and teachers have probably the most valuable responsibility of all. They provide the framework for education and a moral compass for our children to navigate in this most complicated world. More than ever, we need our young people to believe that things can change and that equality can be achieved through the powerful voice of protest and democracy. Simply put, something has to change.
I wish for equality and an end to the insidiousness of all racism. I wish for our kids to grow up in a peaceful society with self-respect. In our small sector of society where we take students beyond their classroom and expose them to different cultures, I hope we help to create a more tolerant and just foundation for the world that students are about to enter. At ACIS, we will continue our mission to open minds and to embrace and learn about other cultures at home and around the world. Now more than ever.
It seemed inconceivable a year ago that we would live through a global pandemic that wreaked havoc across the world. The last global pandemic was in 1918, 102 years ago! Racism takes place every day and every week. Why can we never learn? Let this be the start of a better place – it’s been going on far too long. Our kids and our students deserve nothing less. Black lives matter.
We’d like to start a conversation within our community about resources that can be used in schools and companies to improve our society. If you have ideas that could become a part of this dialogue, please share them with us, and we will share them here. It may be a small step, but it’s a start. Enough is enough.