In March of 2016, Group Leader Lisa W. didn’t expect to find herself in Belize. But here she was.
Lisa was actually recruiting for her 4th tour when conversations around her 5th tour began. “I ended up on this trip in a roundabout way,” Lisa recalled. One of her students, Cailey, had expressed interest in traveling on a trip with her. The London, Paris, Florence and Rome itinerary (her 4th tour), however, wasn’t exactly what she was looking for – Cailey wanted something more adventurous. In the past Lisa had always stuck to selecting trips that traveled throughout Europe because she felt these destinations were more interesting to her students. Cailey’s comment got her thinking that it was time to try traveling to a new continent with her students.
This wouldn’t be out of character for Lisa herself. Having always gone to adventurous locations for her personal travel (she chose to study abroad in the middle east and honeymooned in the rainforests of Costa Rica), Lisa was energized by Cailey’s comments. She knew that having a student spearheading a new destination would be invaluable for helping get other students on board. And if one student wanted to experience something adventurous, who was to say other students weren’t in the same boat? Lisa told Cailey that as long as it involved a plane and a passport she would be in.
Together they poured through experiences looking for the one that provided the perfect balance of education and adventure. Originally, the conversation was focused around Thailand and elephants. But after discussing ideas with Lisa’s tour consultant, Pete, they saw that Belize offered that perfect balance and chose it for their spring break 2016 destination. Students enrolled within days and an adventurous group quickly came together.
From the moment the group landed in Belize, Thank you Cailey was the theme as everyone showed her appreciation for proposing the new destination. The experience was different than any tour the students had traveled on, and that only helped provide unique and eye-opening moments.
“Every other day was filled with adventure, while the alternate days were focused around educational experiences. It was amazing,” Lisa recalled.
From ziplining through a jungle and tubing through caves, to interacting with younger kids at a local Belizean school — everyone in the group found themselves doing something they had never done before. One of Lisa’s students even described the experience of visiting a local school as the most fun she had on tour. “And it was just so great to hear,” said Lisa, “because she had clearly been enjoying herself the entire tour.”
Whether Lisa finds her group of students on the Greek Islands, sitting in a gondola in Venice, or hiking along the Xunantunich ruins in Belize, there are always moments where she can point to the positive impact these global experiences have on her students. She has stood by a student at the Sistine Chapel, wiping away tears in awe of its beauty. She has walked one step behind first-time travelers as they navigate an international airport. And she follows along with photos and updates as past students continue their global education by studying abroad in college.
Tour number 6 will see Lisa and students headed back to Italy. But thanks to Cailey and the amazing group of students this past March, she plans to continue mixing in adventurous and transformative destinations.
Interested in traveling to Belize with your students? See the Best of Belize itinerary Lisa traveled on here.