I agree fully that first-hand experience is the only way to obtain that invaluable and mindset-changing education that third-world travel provides. Seeing a group of street kids sleeping on the street for the first time forces a person to immediately re-evaluate their views on life. You have no other choice. And as you said, the result is positive change, even if it’s only in the form of a small increase in compassion.

I think we should also focus on the positive aspects of third-world countries. While the poverty is clearly unfair, there are also endless amounts of poverty-stricken people who have seemed to discover an inner peace, a calmness, even a level of happiness that all of the possessions we amass in the west simply doesn’t provide. And there’s a great deal to be learned from that as well.