Striving For Geography Literacy

Marc Mancini Yes, I know, my Geography Bowl page in TravelAge West can be a killer. But that’s always been our goal to make it a challenge, a mental stretch. It’s only by pushing ourselves past our current knowledge boundaries that we can grow professionally. Just remember, even if you rarely break th

By: Marc Mancini

Yes, I know, my Geography Bowl page in TravelAge West can be a killer. But that’s always been our goal to make it a challenge, a mental stretch. It’s only by pushing ourselves past our current knowledge boundaries that we can grow professionally.

Just remember, even if you rarely break the first 110-point level, you almost surely know more about destinations than your clients. To them, you are a Geo Genius, and you have earned and deserve that status. What is more worrisome is that our clients’ lack of knowledge -- already weak -- probably will be worse in the future.

Consider a recent National Geographic Society survey of 18- to 24-year-olds from a number of countries. The results are bleak. Only 14 percent recognized Israel on a map, even though it is in the news constantly. Nearly one-third of the Americans questioned said that the U.S. population is between 1 billion and 2 billion. (I guess they think China’s population is a zillion.)

Overall, out of the 10 countries in the survey, we placed second to last. You can join me, though, in helping to reverse the situation.

As you may have heard, AAA and some suppliers are staging an online Travel High School Challenge, a virtual version of Geography Bowl. The prizes are $156,000 in college scholarships from those wise industry veterans, Ed and Lynn Hogan, through their Hogan Family Foundation.

So if you know a high-school teacher or student, tell them to visit www.aaa.com/TravelChallenge. They can register now the games begin this month.

Put aside any feeling you may have about AAA as a competitor. This effort goes way beyond that. And maybe, someday, you’ll have a few new clients who will know the world better because of you.

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