Licensed social worker and experienced teacher, Irene Kepler, illustrates the importance of considering the social justice impact of traveling.

Irene Kepler, an avid traveler, and licensed social worker has traveled to almost every continent on Earth — she still has to make it to Antarctica, though. During her travels, she has experienced myriad cultures and ways of organizing the world — appreciation of this variety lies at the core of her commitment to socially responsible travel that expands our understanding of the world while improving lives.

Irene Kepler on how travel expands horizons

According to Kepler, travel is the perfect way to learn more about the world, its various cultures, traditions, and peoples. Living in places as far-flung as Paris, England, Alaska, and Tanzania, Kepler developed a keen appreciation for the importance of recognizing local cultures and traditions. The experience of living abroad solidified Irene Kepler’s commitment to human and civil rights advocacy and writing — and she argues that by expanding horizons, travel can introduce the empathy required to stimulate deep societal change. While living in Tanzania, Irene Kepler was motivated to develop a program to improve the health of local orphans. By spending time and living in other cultures, we develop a better understanding of how others see the world, often resulting in a deep sense of connection that motivates us to help others, suggests Kepler.

Irene Kepler offers suggestions for socially responsible travel

Volunteering offers a wonderful way to engage more deeply with communities around the world, suggests Kepler. Working with an established non-governmental organization provides an ideal way to contribute to the world while learning more about other cultures, traditions, and ways of life. Consider working with an organization such as that founded by Irene Kepler, which works with local women to produce agricultural staples to earn money for their families. Other fantastic options include projects that bring fresh water, vegetables, and other staples to isolated communities. Volunteering also provides other benefits, including reduced travel costs — many organizations provide support for long-term volunteers, including assistance with meals and housing. These sorts of working vacations provide professionals with ways to use their skills and abilities to improve living conditions for those in need around the world. Studying abroad can be another pathway to learning about other countries, cultures, and people. Irene Kepler encourages those still studying to consider spending at least one semester abroad.