Imke Baumann, director of custom and open enrollment programs in the Office of Executive Education at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, recently completed a major milestone in her life: she has traveled to 50 different countries, all before her 30th birthday!
When Baumann started working at Georgetown in 2012, she had stamps from less than a dozen countries in her passport. Baumann — who grew up in Luebeck, Germany — decided to make international travel a priority, and soon updated her bucket list to include traveling to 50 countries before she turned 30. Her quest has taken her to Australia and throughout Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa, and from small villages to large cities.
Along the way, she has learned important lessons that she draws upon as she works with Georgetown’s diverse and global students — and that she carries with her in her day-to-day life.
In this post, Baumann shares her views on the importance of world travel:
Part of the reason I travel so much is because Georgetown has many programs abroad. My first international trip with Georgetown was to South Korea in 2013. We were working with a large conglomerate at the time and were going there for orientation to meet the students. Even before I started working at Georgetown, I had a passion for traveling.
Growing up in Germany, I was always drawn to visiting lots of countries throughout Europe and having continuous learning experiences. I still go to new places in Europe every time I visit family in Germany, but I have branched out, going to more and more unique places where I don’t know the language or the people at all, making it even more fulfilling to immerse myself for a week or two at a time.
One of the best parts of traveling is actually mapping out the travel routes themselves. I have a giant map in my apartment where I put pins in all the places I’ve been. I started out in Europe, and my second big trip was to Australia. Then I went to Southeast Asia, Latin America, and most recently, Africa. In general, besides Australia and Antarctica of course, I have been to at least three countries in each continent. Going to one country was fun in the beginning, but I now enjoy going to whole regions at a time. For instance, when I went to Southeast Asia, I connected many countries in a single trip, including Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Travel connects me to almost anybody. When talking to clients, I can say that I’ve visited their country and that I know something about their culture, their language, or their beliefs. Even if I haven’t been to a client’s country, I can almost always find a mutual place of interest or a place we’ve both visited. We bond over it. We talk about the great food we’ve had, the music we enjoyed, and the friendly people we met. Travel is really the best way to bring people together.
As cheesy as it may sound, I think the world is more global these days than we sometimes think. Traveling is especially fulfilling in a social sense in that I’ve found that I can talk about rare experiences I’ve had in far-away lands. More importantly, however, traveling allows be to become more culturally aware. Knowing that people around the world experience life differently is essential for my work. When I schedule a program for someone in Latin America, for example, I consider the varying start and end times of their day or the varying food preferences they have. It really helps to be culturally sensitive and aware of the many nuances you learn from traveling.
In part two, Baumann shares memorable moments from some of her trips, as well as her future travel plans.