Billy, standing in front of his class, where he prioritizes appreciating cultures as a lesson to his students.

Where are they now?

A traveler turned teacher finds deeper appreciation for EF tours

Know what the funny thing is about time passing? Even when something comes full circle, it doesn’t have to end. The older he gets, the more Billy S. sees that. His own journey is a perfect example. As a teenager growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, one of his teachers led an EF tour to London, Paris, and Rome which gave Billy a chance to see Europe for the first time. He’s been lucky enough to return a few times since, appreciating culture—and travel—more and more with each trip. But Billy’s most recent journey was extra special.

Because, while he wouldn’t have predicted it 10 years ago, Billy is now a history teacher at his alma mater. And last year, he was able to join the school’s EF tour as a chaperone. He traveled alongside his own students as they left home for the first time, much like he did at their age. Billy watched with excitement as his students created memories that reminded him of his own.

“It was a lot of ‘whoa, déjà vu is happening.’ Except now you’re on the other side of the table,” says Billy. Below, see how travel has shaped his own life and why he considers that trip his favorite journey yet.

Discovering another side of the world and himself

Billy’s original EF tour is something he has revisited and reflected on a lot over the years. “I think about who I was as a person when I was that age,” says Billy, “and I think about who I’ve become since then. And it’s interesting to see how your appreciation for that time deepens the farther away it is.”

Billy admits that it didn’t hit him all at once on that EF tour (after all, he was having a blast in new countries with some of his best friends), but he learned life lessons that would grow and shape his outlook on life in the years to come. He figured out how to operate outside of his comfort zone. He started appreciating cultures different from his own. And he learned that people, no matter where they’re from, are just people.

It’s a lesson he began to learn on that first EF tour. But it wasn’t without a little help.

Billy and his dad Danny, who both find EF tours as a great tool for appreciating cultures, sitting on the bleachers in their school's gym.

Not your average Group Leader

The Group Leader on Billy’s EF tour in high school was no ordinary teacher. It was his dad, Danny. And that’s not the only twist. Now that he’s back working at his old high school, Billy teaches in the classroom directly next to his father’s.

“It’s a surreal experience daily,” laughs Billy.

After leading EF tours for 13 years, Danny has seen the impact travel has on his students, including his own son: “My goal for taking students on EF tours is not only to see a change in their life, but really for them to see other people differently. The biggest impact to me is how they are more accepting and more understanding.”

Danny knows that when his students return home, they carry what they’ve seen with them and bring a new perspective into the community. He doesn’t have to look far for a perfect example. Billy relies on his life experiences to relate to students in the classroom daily. The travel experiences that started on that first EF tour with his father inform the lessons he tries to pass on to the community he grew up in.

And even though Billy had a blast as a chaperone, Danny’s not ready to hand over the travel program just yet. “It never gets old,” says Danny. “People ask me all the time, ‘does it get old to see something iconic?’ No, because the students haven’t seen it, and seeing their reaction, they’re just blown away.”

A high-school-aged Billy and Danny pose for a picture in London on an EF tour, Billy's first step toward appreciating cultures.

1/5 Billy and Danny in London on Billy’s first trip to Europe with EF.

A young Billy and his Dad hug on the football field, an important aspect of their life at home and a different way to view appreciating cultures.

2/5 Hut hut hike! When they’re not on the road, this father and son bond over football.

One of Danny's groups posing for a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower on an EF tour, where Danny always stresses the importance of appreciating cultures.

3/5 Danny’s entire EF group visits the Eiffel Tower.

Educational travel isn't the only way of appreciating cultures, as Billy and Danny show in this childhood vacation photo at the beach.

4/5 Billy and Danny enjoying fun in the sun at the beach.

Appreciating culture and history in this group shot while on an EF tour in Europe.

5/5 Bon voyage! Ever since this first trip to Paris, Billy and Danny have shared a love of travel.

1/5 Billy and Danny in London on Billy’s first trip to Europe with EF.

2/5 Hut hut hike! When they’re not on the road, this father and son bond over football.

3/5 Danny’s entire EF group visits the Eiffel Tower.

4/5 Billy and Danny enjoying fun in the sun at the beach.

5/5 Bon voyage! Ever since this first trip to Paris, Billy and Danny have shared a love of travel.

Teaching the next generation of travelers

Like father, like son. Part way through his trip as a chaperone, Billy realized he was looking at his students more than he was looking at the sights. “There’s nothing better than seeing their eyes get wide and watching them grow right before your eyes,” says Billy.

Now that Billy has seen an EF tour as a student and a teacher, he’s found a whole new perspective (again). He sees travel as one of the best ways to teach his students some of life’s most valuable lessons. Just like his dad has known for years.

“It’s a culmination of everything I try to do in the classroom, but it’s just the most effective way to do it,” Billy says of EF taking students on tours. “It’s the most valuable tool for learning about others and learning about ourselves.”

When the time comes, Billy is more than ready to pick up the travel torch from his dad and continue the tradition of travel in their community.

Appreciating cultures comes back home in this photo of a high-school student wearing an EF backpack while opening his locker.

In EF’s “Where are they now?” series, we connect with former student travelers to learn all the ways their tour helped them grow in the moment and leave on the path to so much more.

Students learn about appreciating cultures new and old in this photo of travelers on an EF tour in Spain.

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Jake Minton

Jake is a copywriter at EF. His bucket list includes (but is by no means limited to) snowboarding in Japan, exploring the streets of Nairobi, and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef.