When Modern World History teacher Dave D. started to enroll students on his first EF tour, WWII and the Western Front, he made some history himself—45 students signed up in less than 20 hours. “When you’re in the classroom, there’s only so much that students can get out of watching a video, having a teacher explain it, or reading about it in a book,” says Dave. “I thought, ‘Here’s an opportunity to take everything that they’ve learned and actually take them there.’”
During the tour, Dave showed his students that history is more than just a school subject—it’s a living, breathing thing that evolves over time. With the help of his Tour Director, he was able to add a tour stop that hit close to home. The students had learned about the Malmedy massacre, an ambush by the Nazis on American soldiers during Belgium’s Battle of the Bulge, from a survivor that often came to speak at the school’s Veteran’s Day assembly. Dave and his students took a side trip to the city of Malmedy, and visited the memorial. “That was so beyond powerful to our students and to our community,” he says. “I’m getting chills now just thinking about it.”
This tour deals with some difficult subject matter, so Dave made sure to build in plenty of time for reflection throughout the tour. Students would silently journal on the bus after visiting solemn sites, and then split up into smaller groups during dinner to process and discuss the day’s activities. “There was a maturity level that grew in the students, and there was a level of comprehension about the world that you saw grow in them, too,” he says.
But, there was still plenty of time for students to have fun on tour. “EF does a nice job of mixing activities that are exciting with ones that are a little more serious in tone,” he says. They rode the London Eye, smiled back at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, and practiced their French with guards at the Eiffel Tower. Along the way, Dave posted photos on a Facebook page he created so that parents could follow along with their children’s adventures.
After witnessing the positive effects that WWII and the Western Front tour had on his students, Dave is continuing the travel program at his school. “It was very important to get this program started here and to make sure it stays here, both for the kids in this community and for my children,” says Dave. To begin saving for his two young daughters’ future travels, he’s even started EF funds, alongside their college funds, for each of them. His three-year-old daughter is already excited about the idea of travel. “She says, ‘When I get bigger, I get to go to Europe with daddy,’ and I say, ‘Absolutely.’”