A few years ago, Jeremy George, a high school history teacher from Springfield, Missouri, had never traveled abroad. Then he found EF.
Since taking his first group abroad, Jeremy has traveled everywhere from Austria to Australia with EF Educational Tours. Next year, he will travel on tours to Amsterdam and Paris and France and Spain, and he is already planning a tour to England, Ireland and Wales in 2010.
Jeremy—pictured above with students in Australia (he’s in the black-and-blue jacket to the right of the guy in the cool hat)—talked with us about the “irreplaceable experience” of travel, establishing a reputation for taking students on tour and his own dream tour of Italy:
Why do you travel abroad with students? My first experience traveling abroad was in April of 2000; I spent a month in Morocco. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to travel with Rotary International. When I returned to the United States after this trip, I knew I had to keep traveling. A couple of weeks after I was back in the U.S., I received a flier from EF Educational Tours about teachers traveling free; I knew I could do it, and this was the opportunity I needed to continue traveling abroad. It quickly became clear that this would benefit the life and cultural experiences of my students, as well as my own. EF is very affordable for my students; thus, this awesome travel experience is within their reach.
Why do you think it is important for students to travel on an educational tour?
Educational tours offer more than a “vacation” could. The tour itinerary is set up specifically to provide cultural and historical perspectives. Tasting the different cuisine and smelling the different aromas of a foreign country is an irreplaceable experience. EF provides all of this in a well-rounded tour. With EF, you don’t waste your precious time trying to decide the key points of interest; the tour director already has it set up to take you there.
EF believes that 21st century skills (such as global literacy, problem solving, innovation and creativity) have become critical in today’s increasingly interconnected workforce and society. How do you think travel helps foster these types of skills?
Students who are more aware of global connectedness will be better prepared for college, for their careers, for future travel and to be better “world citizens.” That is the focus of how I teach my world history classes and is definitely a focus of how I encourage students and their parents to travel with me on EF trips. The knowledge and experience of walking down medieval city streets or standing in the Vatican looking at Michelangelo’s Pieta and The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel is invaluable.
What kind of an effect does traveling abroad have on your students?
Students come back from EF trips in awe of the beauty and magnificence of the historical sites they saw. I always bring students who have traveled with me into my classes after the trips to share their experience with other students. They are so excited to talk about what they saw, what they ate, where they went, what they did, and to share their pictures. I also have had several students from past trips study abroad in college and travel after high school.
Do you have any tips for recruiting students for your tour?
Advertise in the school with fliers and posters, sell the trip verbally to your classes and ask other teachers if you can come and speak to their classes. Once you get a reputation for your trips, the students will come to you asking about the next trip, and you can build the next tour on that reputation.
Tell us about your dream travel destination or perfect tour itinerary?
My dream itinerary would be a complete tour of Italy, from Lake Como all the way down to Sicily. We would spend most of our time in the smaller villages and the country estates.
How have you used your Global Points so far?
Global Points are a huge incentive to stay with EF. My wife and I have taken several trips to Europe, cashing in my Global Points for airline tickets. We traveled to Ireland in the summer of 2003, to Italy in 2004, to Italy again in 2006 and to Austria in 2007. These were fantastic trips made possible by not having to pay for our airline tickets. I love the Global Points!