Last week Longitude attended the annual Educational Travel Conference in St. Louis. Besides meeting with our current valued travel partners we met a host of new travel companies and look forward to partnering with them in the coming year, all in the name of getting books into the hands of travelers.
The Educational Travel Community was the privileged audience of several talented keynotes, including author and anthropologist Wade Davis. Davis inspired us with images and stories of little-known cultures he has encountered around the world, reminding us that alternate ways of being are not “failed attempts at being you,” but rather the “answer to the question of what it is to be human.” Such an answer might be played out in Western culture through “technological wizardry” but it might also be in the “unraveling of the threads of memory held in myth” in a remote tribe in Polynesia.
In addition to advocating for the conservation of indigenous societies and fast-disappearing languages (which he compared to “the old growth forests of the mind”), Davis inspired the tourism community to continue the good work of fostering meaningful and reciprocal relationships with native peoples through travel. His books move us to do the same, whether by educating us about the ecology of the Colorado River (River Notes), exploring the Amazon (One River) or relating a breathtaking ascent of Everest (Into the Silence). We look forward to returning to the conference next year, animated and enthused by more travel experiences and, of course, further reading.