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Rick Steves, author of more than 50 travel guidebooks, brings wisdom to campus

Travel expert Rick Steves is bringing his insight to the world of travel to the Oklahoma Christian University community. Steves is expected to share his personal knowledge of how to travel wisely, affordably and efficiently during two lecture sessions tomorrow, March 31.

“He was on campus in 2012 and said he sees himself as a teacher,” John Osborne, director of international programs for Oklahoma Christian, said. “He wants to teach people about travel, about engaging other people, places and cultures. We can expect a very engaging and educational lecture.”

Steves is offering a free event focused on the value of travel for students, faculty and staff. Students attending local high schools are invited to hear Steves speak at 2:30 p.m. in Judd Theatre. The lecture will last approximately 30 minutes and is ethos approved for Oklahoma Christian students.

“His point is going to be that when you travel, travel in a way that engages the local community where you get to know the people,” Osborne said. “He gives travel hints and ideas about how to travel intelligently, but the core of his message is how to connect with other people as you travel. If you want to go to a place and understand it fully, it is done through the people of that place and that is the type of travel he promotes.”

Steves’ second lecture is a ticketed event offering advice and tips from his book, “Europe Through The Back Door.” Steves’ talk will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Hardeman Auditorium and is expected to last 90 minutes, according to Study Abroad Coordinator Mendy Kooi. Tickets for the event are $17.50. A limited number of tickets are available to the campus community for $5 through the Office of International Programs from 9-12 and 1-5 daily. A sold-out, VIP reception will be held prior to the event, at 6 p.m., in the Gaylord University Center.

“His topic, ‘Europe Through the Back Door,’ is encouraging people to not participate in the touristy things and stay with the tourist traps but to get to know Europe through a different lens,” Kooi said. “He teaches to engage the culture and travel thoughtfully. He will give tips on how to make the most of your money while traveling.”

Osborne said the purpose of Steves coming to campus is to encourage the campus and local community to travel with purpose. According to his website, Steves encourages Americans to travel as “temporary locals” and travel in smart, affordable, perspective-broadening ways.

“OC has been described as a university with a map of the world on our heart,” Osborne said. “That’s in the DNA of this university — people going, traveling and serving.”

Steves’ created his business, Rick Steves’ Europe, in 1976 to educate people on better, smarter and more affordable ways to travel, namely in European countries. Since 1976, the company has grown from a one-man operation to 100 full-time employees headquartered in Washington state. Steves’ work includes more than 50 guidebooks, a travel series on public television, a weekly hour-long NPR show and a European tour program.

“We live in a world where people are afraid to travel because of what is going on in the world these days,” Osborne said. “Rick’s teaching is on the idea that the best way to promote understanding and peace is for people through travel.”

The office of international programs at Oklahoma Christian uses Steves’ lessons to benefit students looking at travel opportunities presented through them.

Steves’ books, such as “Europe Through the Back Door,” “Europe 101” and “Travel as a Political Act,” are used by students in preparation for students’ travels with study abroad programs at Oklahoma Christian, especially those participating in the European studies program.

“Whenever a student comes and talks to me about going to Europe for the first time, I always recommend they read “Europe Through the Back Door” first because that is the one I read first,” Kooi said. “Steves’ talks about how you can travel and it does not make it scary for someone who has never traveled abroad before. The book also gives lots of ideas like how can you meet the locals, see things that are not on everyone’s radar as far as great things to see, little hidden gems in different places and other beneficial information for travelers.”

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