“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves” – Euripides
I’ve been looking through scrapbooks and photo albums recently, and reading old travel journals, digging up the little details of foreign adventures that disappear in the weeks, months, and years after you return from a trip and it brought me back to a number of different journeys, but a specific one stuck in my mind when my two greatest loves [teaching & traveling] developed into an educational travel program and fostered friendships that I will enjoy for a lifetime.
I think back to a specific day in March 2006. I was teaching my tenth grade global history class about the Renaissance in northern Italy when I had a few visitors at my classroom door. I stepped out of my classroom and into the hallway to have a brief, but life changing conversation. There were two male teachers and one female teacher. I was asked, “Do you have plans for spring break?” and I replied “No.” Next question was “do you want to go to Italy?” And I was now a bit stunned. This question was followed up with “the kids like you, you have travel experience, and we need another female.” Obviously, I think you can guess my answer. I said “yes!” Next thing I knew I was in front of my classroom teaching my students and realizing I was going to be in the exact place I was talking about at that moment in a few weeks.
Since 2006 I have been traveling with my high school students once or twice a year. Some of the adventures we have experienced include visits to Italy, Greece, Spain, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belize, England, France, Turkey, and Costa Rica. I am grateful to have served as a chaperone on a trip to Italy after being approached on a random day in March 2006 and following that trip I had the opportunity to collaborate with a similar minded colleague and now close friend to begin an educational travel program. The travel program we run is exceptional. We have been working with a private tour company EF Tours and have been very successful. I recently completed my 15th student tour with EF Tours. My next one will be in July to Tanzania. I love to travel with my colleagues and students. You can find out more about this travel program by visiting the following website- www.teachertravels.wix.com/travel.
I was fortunate to travel on an educational tour in high school to France with two special French teachers. I hope I impact the lives of my students as much as they both impacted mine. I feel blessed to be a teacher and a traveler and I am even more grateful that I can combine these two passions. Traveling is a journey of a lifetime and my goal as an educator is to open the hearts and minds of my students to understand and discover themselves and the world around them. Travel is a personal transformation where you encounter various wonders and interesting sites. It is a great way to introduce students to foreign cultures and it will affect each traveler in a meaningful way. To see the world is to know it and I believe it is never too early for students to experience the world. It will inspire them to be global citizens for life.
You also learn many life lessons while traveling. I am excited for each trip for my students to learn, but I am also excited for myself to learn. I am a lifelong learner. I love to absorb my surroundings and learn about life through experience. One of the most influential lessons I have learned is about relationships. In life you will realize there is a role for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you, some will love you, and some will teach you, but the ones who are truly important are the ones who bring out the best in you. They are the rare and amazing people who remind you why it’s worth it. My suggestion to you is to surround yourself with people who make you hungry for life, touch your heart and nourish your soul. These people are the ones you want to make memories with and have experiences with. Travel relationships often happen fast, they open you up, they’re temporary and that’s okay. If people are meant to stay in your life, they will. Maybe you’ll continue traveling together, or you’ll reunite again in the future. For those who were not meant to stay in your life, they always make a mark on you however big or small. Maybe they open your eyes to something new or teach you something- on purpose or by accident they always leave their mark. I have learned to expect less from people and worry less about my future with people, living fully in the present moment instead. Letting go of expectations and future forecast makes it easier to have healthy, pleasant and memorable exchanges.
The travel program would not be the success it is without the amazing team of adults. I have some of the best people in the world by my side and always ready to help. These individuals will always be in my life. I trust them and they trust me. Teamwork is essential in making this program a success. We are organized, efficient, professional and fun. We always have a good time and we learn from each other. Each individual has his/her strengths and weaknesses and we compliment each other in our work. Everyone has friendship stories; stories that define what makes each friendship so special or what makes a group of friends so fun to be around, but travel builds relationships that are unique. Having special people in your life is a blessing and something that should be cherished. Pam Piffard and Peter Crugnale are just two of my many blessings.