People ask me all the time: “What possesses you to travel with students?” This question does not have as straight forward a reply as one might think.
As a kid, me and my family never traveled much. We simply couldn’t afford to. In fact, we went to Disney World, Florida, for a big trip when I was about fourteen, and we didn’t even fly because it was too expensive; moreover, in addition to my parents saving to pay for the trip, my grandfather also contributed. Then, in my junior year of high school, when the opportunity arose to take a trip to Spain with my Spanish class, I begged and pleaded with my parents to allow me to go. After telling me I needed to deplete my savings account to do it, I agreed. With about twenty students and two chaperones, we flew to Spain for a ten-day tour. Not only was it my first time out of the country, it was also my first time on a plane. I remember feeling so brave and independent for taking the plunge. Of course, I was the student who phoned home the most– I was a tinge homesick, but I did it. I toured all over Spain and made bonds with people whom I still keep in touch with today. I learned so much about myself and culture. Everywhere we went, it was as if my four years of Spanish class were coming alive before my eyes. I could implement the language, actually see places I’d only heard about, learn about the history of the country, immerse myself in the culture. I came home a changed person. Traveling abroad opened up a whole new world for me.
While I have traveled a fair amount since my high school trip to Spain, it seemed only natural to want to pay it forward by taking my British Literature class to England, a place I’d always dreamed about going but had never been. So, me and a colleague decided to take the tour. Conducting research about a tour company was easy; in that, I began and ended with the educational tour company I’d traveled with to Spain some fifteen years earlier.
Since that first trip in 2005 to England, I’ve been using E.F. Educational Tours for each educational trip I’ve taken. I’ve been to England twice, about to take my third journey in April 2013, France and I also ran a Behind-the-Scenes in Hollywood tour about five years ago for my Reading Literature/Reading Film class (E.F. has both domestic and international divisions).
What I love the most about E.F. is that it’s so easy to plan a tour with them; for each tour I’ve been on, they’ve allowed me to completely customize the whole trip in order to connect to my curriculum. The best way to learn is by doing and in making those concrete connections, learning becomes immediate and fun. Being on tour is even easier than the planning because of the tour guide who is assigned to each group 24/7 who takes control of the planning, deals with snafus that happen along the way, provide a wealth of information to the students and chaperones– in essence, making everything run like clockwork.
There are two things about traveling with students that I love most. First, it’s the ability to see a place I’ve been before through their eyes. Everything becomes new all over again when shared with a fresh set of eyes (or twenty-ish sets). Second, would be the bonds that form from being together virtually 24/10. Students who would not have even acknowledged one another at school, suddenly have this bond with one another that no one else shares (except their travel mates). These are what I took away from my first E.F. tour many moons ago, and it still stands apart from other trips I’ve taken, for it was the first. It set me on a path for life to enjoy the process of the journey where ever it may lead. And, even now, some thirty years later, there are still so many journeys I have yet to take.