Educator profile

Teachers on EF tours: How Natalie inspires her students’ futures

Here at EF, we could speak about the lifelong impact of student travel experiences all day—but it’s far more powerful when you get to hear directly from educators who have personally witnessed (and experienced!) their transformative effects. Today, we’re handing the mic to biology teacher Natalie H., who’s traveled with students on three previous tours and is excited for her next 2022 EF adventure in Costa Rica. Read on to catch some of Natalie’s exuberant hope for both the future and her students’ futures, to see why travel empowers her to be the best teacher she can be, and to learn why she believes the tour experience inspires what comes next for all travelers involved.

Why Natalie’s traveling in 2022

As a teacher of 20 years and a mom of two high-schoolers, Natalie knows exactly what her students have missed out on due to the pandemic the past few years. However, she views her school’s upcoming Costa Rica tour as not only a beacon of hope for her students, but also, a chance for them to move forward. “I think this trip is going to mark a new beginning,” she says. “Students are going to have a point in time that they can say ‘My life started to change in a positive way.’”

Using travel to amplify the classroom experience

Biology textbooks are powerful tools, but nothing compares to going out into the world and seeing lessons come to life. Whether students are trekking through cloud forests or seeing a volcano up close, they gain a personal connection to their surroundings that deepens their understanding and can inspire them to dig deeper. In addition to an academic boost, travel helps students grow in countless personal ways. “Travel does a really great job of allowing teachers to round out our students’ education,” Natalie explains. Their experiences with new places and new people can lead to everything from enhanced problem-solving skills and cultural awareness to greater senses of confidence and empathy. “I think all those skills are going to translate into brighter and more successful futures.”

How EF tours inspire what’s next for students

Natalie loves seeing the immediate student transformations that take place right on tour—like when her high-schoolers take on the responsibility of managing their own passports, or when her shyest students push themselves to chat with strangers. She also loves following up with her students after they return home to see all of the ways their on-tour growth continues to impact them for the better. Sometimes, their newfound confidence translates into greater participation at school. Other times, it even paves the way for a new life plan. No matter what, it has a lasting effect that stays with her students no matter where they go next. As Natalie says, “Once students come back, they will have had these life-affirming experiences. I think it’s going to change the course of their future.”

The never-ending impact of travel on educators

While EF tours are specifically designed to spark inspiration for students, the experiences are just as beneficial for teachers. From a personal standpoint, learners of all ages get to expand their worldview while discovering how to embrace new opportunities and challenges with an open mind. And professionally, educators like Natalie get deeper, firsthand knowledge on their classroom subjects that they can use to fuel their own lessons back home.

Hear from more teachers like Natalie

Read more of our blog to learn why educators from all around the world choose to partner with EF.

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Sarah McLaughlin

Sarah is a senior copywriter at EF Education First. When she isn’t writing, you can find her browsing through bookshops, trying to cook, or going to improv class (which is basically just an excuse for adults to play make-believe).