A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.—John A. Shedd
Many OLLI members enjoy traveling, returning to family roots, exploring our northwest region or adventuring overseas. For foreign destinations, we like to prepare with knowledge and advice from multiple sources—travel websites, Google Earth, Rick Steves, or friends who have been there. Collecting country information is no problem, but then how to organize it? I start by using six trusted headings:
- Geo-Nature is my combination of geography and the natural environment. I include information on country borders, climate, topography, flora and fauna, water, and pollution.
- History—How the country was settled or colonized, important leaders, key milestones such as year of independence, a recent earthquake, or when the national team won Olympic gold in soccer.
- People and Culture—The population, urban v. rural, major ethnic groups, education, literacy, birthrate, life expectancy, healthcare, and sanitation. Languages, food, religion, and values reflected in predominant national culture; this is my favorite section.
- Politics and Law—Governance system, legal system, how power is shared, and results of the last election. External relations: foreign policy, disputes with neighboring countries, and relations with the U.S.
- Economics— Manufacturing, agriculture, services, and tourism. GNP growth and GDP per capita, employment, currency exchange rates, major imports and exports.
- Tech and Transport—How is electricity generated—oil and coal v. renewable? Are wall plug adapters needed? Internet and Wifi availability? Infrastructure and roadways, domestic airports, buses, and ferry systems.
If you plan to share your travel experience with other OLLI members, then consider this kind of country profile method to help organize your data, photos, and slides. Your written profile can also be turned into a useful handout.
Eugene-Springfield Council President