You might find yourself doing a double take at some point in a conversation with Nikki.
She has so much passion for traveling abroad and confidence in the profound impact it’s had on her 17-year-old son, Nicholas, you’d be forgiven for assuming they’ve been on a long list of EF tours over the years.
But amid her family’s excitement for their upcoming travel plans, it strikes you that this energy all stems from a single tour. That’s all it took. Now that she and Nicholas have been abroad on their first EF tour, she can’t wait to get out on the road as a foursome and give the experience to her other two sons, Marcus, who’s 14, and Aric, who’s 10. “Traveling abroad and seeing the world with fresh eyes, versus reading it in a book or seeing it in a movie, is an experience you just can’t match,” she says about the power of travel.
Nikki and Nicholas at the Parthenon in Athens
When a teacher at Nicholas’ school in West Virginia announced an opportunity for students to take a trip to Greece, the family was all ears. While Nikki has seen the world as part of her military service, her sons had never traveled outside the country, and she wanted them to have that opportunity. During an information session, Nikki realized she could join the tour as a chaperone and signed right up. She’s glad she had the chance to see Nicholas experience life outside the country for herself. “It was exciting, but then it was also touching and emotional. We experienced it all together. I got to see his interaction with classmates, them taking in the sights and the language and trying different foods. To see it firsthand, [instead of] being on the receiving end of a picture—it was priceless.”
The effects on Nicholas certainly weren’t limited to the trip itself, either. Once they returned home, Nikki noticed changes in her son. “He was even more self-aware and more sensitive to others who are of a different ethnicity, different culture, different background. He was more willing to try different things.” It’s a unique sort of growth she feels is only made possible through travel.
Traveling abroad and seeing the world with fresh eyes, versus reading it in a book or seeing it in a movie, is an experience that you just can’t match.
Nikki’s other two sons will soon have the same experience. Now that she’s traveled with Nicholas, she’s bringing the whole family abroad. After her younger children made clear how eager they were to take a trip like their older brother’s, all four are signed up to go to the Alps and Mediterranean coast in 2022. But she was further emboldened by how thoroughly her Group Leader and the EF staff were able to handle important details that would allow her son Marcus, who requires a wheelchair, to have the experience. Knowing how thorough the planning process is, there was no hesitation booking another tour for all her kids.
Nicholas sailing the Mediterranean seas.
Nikki knows her whole family will gain valuable perspective from seeing a new part of the world. And she believes the lessons her sons will learn are more important now than ever. “I’m an advocate for people stepping outside the box of where they’re from. Getting the experience, getting the cultural diversity and awareness of people who are not like you is important. [You] build relationships with those you probably normally wouldn’t. [And with that,] you learn to trust them, and they learn to trust you, and it builds and builds.”
Where to next?
Aric and Marcus are ready to follow in their brother’s footsteps and get in on the travel action for themselves. The whole family is traveling together on their next tour, which will take them to the Alps and Mediterranean coast to see everything from the stunning mountains of Switzerland to the beautiful waters of Cinque Terre.
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