Jet Lag: Good for Students

Dr. Phil Johnson is the founder and president of Global Next Research Group and Leadership Institute. Phil is a former educator, administrator and developer of educational programs, but he currently uses his expertise to speak to audiences and train leaders throughout the US, Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Through the research arm of his organization, Phil has met with leaders, influencers and journalists in places such as Moscow, Israel, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan. His extensive travel, research, writing and first-person interviews across the world bring a unique perspective to his work in developing a new generation of leaders.

As a Christian, Phil’s most important desire is to bring hope to the world and to reflect God’s character to those he serves.

Ok, that title isn’t really true. Not even a little bit.  Actually, jet lag is not good for anyone – it can disrupt sleep cycles, make you cranky and cause memory loss.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Johnson's Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Johnson’s Facebook page.

I know a little something about jet lag because I run an organization that chases stories around the world, trains many hundreds of leadership students from at least four continents, and I have sampled more pillows than any normal person should. Over a period of 12 busy weeks this past season, I found myself in 14 different countries. So jet lag, for better or for worse, has become my partner!

But here’s what is true:

educational travel, when experienced in secondary school, has tremendous benefits for the life and future of a student.

According to a 2011 independent study, people who participated in educational travel between the ages of 12 and 18 were 67% more likely to finish an advanced degree (compared with just 33% who had not traveled educationally). They were also more likely to maintain full-time employment (61% vs. 39%) and to make more money ($72.3K per year vs. $52.2K per year). Click here to read more about the study.  Think of it, education, jobs and economics benefits. Isn’t that enough to run for congress or something?

After more than 12 years of working in the field of training globally-minded leaders, I have found even more benefits. I often witness an increase in confidence and problem solving skills in travelers. Most students start off a bit unsure – and to be sure, if they are US students, they start off a bit entitled. But in relatively short order, they begin thinking differently. They start engaging the world creatively and viewing problems from new angles. To watch them transform from timid, unsure kids who are confused as to why the TV in their hotel room doesn’t have an “English setting,” or why extra towels don’t magically appear in their bathrooms, into young men and women who take responsibility and action, is truly satisfying.

But in the end, the greatest advantage of international educational travel is how it can shape a student’s understanding of God’s world and their place in that world.

During our conferences, our students are required to submit digital photos and leadership insight statements for our social media project (click here to see samples of our social media project). It’s all about “instant leadership impact” and we post these photos and comments on Facebook and Instagram each night. Reading the posts and reflecting on the growth of students, I am always reminded that these kinds of intense “growth moments” don’t happen on the couch at home. They happen when you brave the world – and embrace jet lag with purpose and intention. Growth, perspective and insight, I have found, often happen in a different time zone.

Learn more about Dr. Johnson and Global Next!

What benefits have you found to getting students outside their comfort zone and time zone?  

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Learn more about Dr. Johnson’s books: