How It's Done
The Team's itinerary in each site, and between sites, is very strategically planned to both bring to life important topics from around the world. They tie in with National History Standards for the US, explore critical global issues, and integrate themselves into the local communities by performing service work with them. The team divides these responsibilities so that some are moving around a lot and others live and work with a community-based organization the whole time.
The eleven cities for the Odyssey World Trek were chosen first because each has been a significant cultural center at some time in history. Many cities jumped right out at us, and we narrowed down the list by considering each city's current importance in the world. In the end, we decided on the following eleven cities, listed from left to right in the order they will be visited.
Mexico City, Mexico Antigua, Guatemala Cuzco, Peru
Harare, Zimbabwe Bamako, Mali Cairo, Egypt Jerusalem, Israel
Istanbul, Turkey Tehran, Iran New Delhi, India Xi'an, China
There is, however, a high degree of flexibility regarding where the team members actually spend their time in-country. Some of the major objectives of The Odyssey -- such as avoiding areas of major western influence and performing service work where it can be most effective -- will best be fulfilled in areas away from the eleven destination cities. In such cases, team members might spend their time somewhere else within the same country.
Travel in Groups of Two or Three
Traveling in a large group of people would be unnecessarily cumbersome and would hinder the trekkers' ability to interact with the people they meet along the way. It could also potentially have a greater negative impact on local cultures. Therefore, the team will travel in groups of twos and threes, each group making its own way from one city to the next. The trekkers will be reunited in the destination cities and form new groups to mix things up and maintain positive group dynamics.
In the spirit of respect and unity on which The Odyssey was founded, team members will make all decisions with an eye to being as culturally, environmentally, and socially responsible as possible. Such an approach will include the following:
Limited Air Travel, No Set Route, Limited High Speed Travel, and Off the Beaten Path
Part of the great adventure of The Odyssey World Trek derives from the fact that the trekkers will navigate the globe without a set route and with limted use of air travel - to get from Argentina to South Africa, and from Zimbabwe to Ghana. Students will get to share in the excitement of shaping the routes the teams choose -- in terms of where they go and how they go -- and of facing the challenges the teams meet along the way.
One of the Team Members, when recently asked to list some of the different methods of travel used, came up with the following:
As the team members travel slowly overland and avoid areas highly influenced by western culture, they will seek a greater knowledge of the rich diversity of cultures and peoples in the world. This approach will give students a perspective of the world they usually do not see. It will enhance the students' understanding of and respect for the planet as a whole and, since local perspectives are often shaped by geography, help students better understand the perspectives of the people who inhabit the areas through which the teams travel.
©1998 The Odyssey: World Trek for Service and Education. All rights reserved.