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Is it Possible to Travel Wisely?

Creative commons photo Shai Barzilay
Creative commons photo Shai Barzilay


Most international students have to take a flight, or even several flights, to reach their destination in the U.S. By the time we become seniors we are professionals at packing suitcases, navigating airports and making it through long flights. Very early in my undergraduate career I learned how unpredictable traveling can be, and got some lessons that have stuck with me every time I’ve traveled since.

One of the first big lessons about traveling that I have learned over the years is that I should always bring rolling luggage. Carrying handbags makes it so difficult and time-consuming to get around the airport. On top of that, I often lost time by mixing up terminals and going to the wrong place. Now I know to stay calm and even when someone working at the airport directs me to a place I should always double-check the airport signs.

However, even when you are careful, things that you don’t expect happen. Sitting on my first transatlantic flight, I learned that we would be arriving in New York a few hours late because of an additional engine check. A few hours of waiting should be fine, I thought, until it turned out that we had to wait an additional hour, which meant that I wouldn’t have enough time to catch the connecting flight that was taking me to my destination.

When my plane finally landed in the U.S., I ran through immigration and customs, baggage claim, and several terminals to reach my connecting flight, which was set to leave in thirty minutes.

I finally arrived at the right terminal, only to learn that my connecting flight had been canceled due to bad weather conditions. I was stuck in New York City until the next day. It was my first time alone in a foreign country on a different continent, and I found myself struggling to stay calm.

A lady working for the airport handed me a voucher for a hotel room for the night and mumbled something about which train, subway, and then bus I would have to take to get to the hotel. My mind reeling, all I could say was, “Could you repeat that?”

After taking a few minutes to calm down, eventually I got it together and went to find the hotel.

As I dragged my two suitcases and carry-on bag behind me, I was approached by a person who offered to drive me to wherever I was going. He certainly wasn’t a taxi driver – taxis are only available from the official taxi line and they’re not allowed to approach you on the streets. Rather, I got the sense that he was someone who had sensed my vulnerability and was more likely to steal my purse or suitcases than to get me to the hotel. I told him someone was waiting for me, which was a lie, but it discouraged him from bothering me. I finally found my own way to the hotel without any more trouble.

In the morning I went back to the airport and took three other flights, without incident, to get to my final destination.

This experience, my first journey in the U.S., was a big influence on the attitude I now have towards traveling. I know that wherever I am and whoever I am with, I can always solve whatever unexpected situations arise.

Even after many years of moving back and forth between two continents, my desire to travel has not ceased. This spring semester I am enrolling in comparative a study abroad program that will take me to places in three different continents, namely New Delhi, Dakar, and Buenos Aires. The goal of this journey is to foster a better understanding of the interconnected social, physical, economic, environmental, and political systems that affect each city. Although I have learned that the key is always flexibility, I still have doubts about how prepared I am to face the challenges that the travel experience could bring.

However, although I have now been to more than twenty airports and feel confident in handling the practicalities of traveling, there are some aspects of traveling I still find challenging. Flying to me always symbolizes saying goodbye, because when I travel I’m always leaving something or someone behind, and leaving a place I am accustomed to for one that might be completely new, unknown, and unpredictable. No matter how many times I fly, the question, “Should I have stayed?” still crosses my mind.

This nervousness about the unknown will never go away, but it’s part of the excitement about a new adventure and the great things that the new places will bring. The uncertainty of traveling gives you a unique kind of confidence that will assist you throughout your whole life. Making it through the challenges all by yourself makes you more mature and responsible , and even when everything goes wrong you learn that the journey is as much of an adventure as the destination.

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NAIA all but bans its transgender college athletes from women's sports

FILE - NAIA women’s basketball players gather after a game in St. Louis, Feb. 22, 2024. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the governing body for mostly small colleges, said Monday that transgender athletes would be all but banned from women's sports.
FILE - NAIA women’s basketball players gather after a game in St. Louis, Feb. 22, 2024. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the governing body for mostly small colleges, said Monday that transgender athletes would be all but banned from women's sports.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the governing body for mostly small colleges, announced a policy Monday that all but bans transgender athletes from competing in women's sports.

The NAIA's Council of Presidents approved the policy in a 20-0 vote. The NAIA, which oversees some 83,000 athletes at schools across the country, is believed to be the first college sports organization to take such a step.

According to the transgender participation policy, all athletes may participate in NAIA-sponsored male sports but only athletes whose biological sex assigned at birth is female and have not begun hormone therapy will be allowed to participate in women's sports.

A student who has begun hormone therapy may participate in activities such as workouts, practices and team activities, but not in interscholastic competition.

"With the exception of competitive cheer and competitive dance, the NAIA created separate categories for male and female participants," the NAIA said. "Each NAIA sport includes some combination of strength, speed and stamina, providing competitive advantages for male student-athletes. As a result, the NAIA policy for transgender student-athletes applies to all sports except for competitive cheer and competitive dance, which are open to all students."

There is no known number of transgender athletes at the high school and college levels, though it is believed to be small. The topic has become a hot-button issue for those for and against transgender athletes competing on girls' and women's sports teams.

At least 24 states have laws barring transgender women and girls from competing in certain women's or girls sports competitions. Last month, more than a dozen current and former college athletes filed a federal lawsuit against the NCAA, accusing the sports governing body for more than 500,000 athletes of violating their rights by allowing transgender women to compete in women's sports.

The Biden administration originally planned to release a new federal Title IX rule — the law forbids discrimination based on sex in education — addressing both campus sexual assault and transgender athletes. But earlier this year, the department decided to split them into separate rules, and the athletics rule now remains in limbo even as the sexual assault policy moves forward.

Hours after the NAIA announcement, the NCAA released a statement: "College sports are the premier stage for women's sports in America and the NCAA will continue to promote Title IX, make unprecedented investments in women's sports and ensure fair competition for all student-athletes in all NCAA championships."

The NCAA has had a policy for transgender athlete participation in place since 2010, which called for one year of testosterone suppression treatment and documented testosterone levels submitted before championship competitions. In 2022, the NCAA revised its policies on transgender athlete participation in an attempt to align with national sport governing bodies, following the lead of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

The three-phase implementation of the policy included a continuation of the 2010 policy, requiring transgender women to be on hormone replacement therapy for at least one year, plus the submission of a hormone-level test before the start of both the regular season and championship events.

The third phase adds national and international sport governing body standards to the NCAA's policy and is scheduled to be implemented for the 2024-25 school year on August 1.

There are some 15.3 million public high school students in the United States and a 2019 study by the CDC estimated 1.8% of them — about 275,000 — are transgender. The number of athletes within that group is much smaller; a 2017 survey by Human Rights Campaign suggested fewer than 15% of all transgender boys and transgender girls play sports.

The number of NAIA transgender athletes would be far smaller.

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