Here at EF, we could speak about the lifelong impact of student travel experiences all day—but it’s far more powerful when you hear directly from educators who get to personally witness (and experience) their transformative effects. That’s why we joined Edith, a world geography teacher from Laredo, TX, on her March 2022 student tour to Washington, D.C. and New York City. Keep reading to learn how she’s seen her students grow through travel and why she trusts EF to bring these momentous experiences to life.
Why Edith is leading an EF tour right now
For many of Edith’s travelers, this tour was their very first trip outside of Texas. Coming from a low-income school, she says it’s rare for her students to even think about travel, let alone believe they can go—and this was a mindset she was determined to change. By leading this trip, she helped her students understand that the world was theirs and waiting for them. And even though the group had to change their plans (their tour was originally scheduled for March of 2020), Edith never swayed in her resolution to give her students the chance to travel. “I feel so proud everyone’s embracing the experience,” she says. “They’ve been waiting, and they’re hungry for it.”
Gaining insights for the classroom—and the real world
From visiting the Lincoln Memorial to watching a Broadway play, Edith’s Washington, D.C. to NYC tour was filled with experiences that not only inspired her students to live in the moment, but also enabled them to leave on the path to so much more. She can’t wait for them to be able to apply everything they’ve seen and learned in person to their in-classroom lessons. “One of my travelers is going to take a test for U.S. history for high school credit,” she says. “And I’m like, ‘Take notes on tour! This is going to help!’ He’s excited about that.” In addition to academics, Edith has also seen her students develop greater independence as they do things like manage their own budgets and belongings. “I think they’re going to take [those skills] back home,” she says. “We’re all watching them grow up.”
Empowering students to lead with empathy
Edith loves seeing her students learn from one another in the classroom. In fact, before she left for tour, one of her greatest hopes was for her travelers to return home excited to share everything they learned with their fellow classmates. Edith’s students just got back—so we’ll have to check in soon—but if their on-tour actions are any indication, we’re sure they’ll meet this goal quicker than they can unpack their suitcases. Why? Because they already proved their empathy and mentorship skills by helping to engage the younger travelers and make sure anyone who was homesick felt comforted and secure. These are the kinds of social-emotional learning experiences that will help these kids become better leaders back in the classroom—and wherever they choose to go next.
Inspiring the next generation of travelers
Growing up, Edith says she would never have been able to go on a student tour like the one she led. “Mexican American families, we don’t let our babies go,” she laughs. “Had you offered my parents this when I was in sixth or seventh grade, my dad would have laughed in your face. Like, ‘No. She’s my baby.’” That’s part of the reason she’s so proud that her majority Hispanic group is traveling today. “The fact their parents are allowing their kids to have this experience says a lot,” she reflects. In today’s interconnected world, travel is more important than ever. And, while Edith hopes her current group will travel with her again while they’re still in school, she’s even more excited knowing these experiences will set them up with a lifelong love of travel that they’ll be able to fulfill on their own.
Partners in moving forward
In the past, Edith worked with a different student travel company to show her students the world—however, she didn’t feel like she and her students were getting everything they needed. So, she switched to EF. “I love the fact that EF is so structured…and [takes] care of us from start to finish,” she says. From pre-tour planning conversations with her Tour Consultant to on-tour guidance from her Tour Director, Edith has always felt supported, confident, and sure of her next moves (literally and figuratively).
Read more of our blog to learn why educators from all around the world partner with EF to promote their students’ growth and development.Read more