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 speaking with Mitch S., a school administrator in Douglasville, GA, who oversees a district-wide educational travel program. Keep reading to learn why he believes students, teachers, and their entire community benefit when travel is on the table.
Inspiring students to find their paths
Mitch believes travel plays a pivotal role in students’ growth and development, and even changes the trajectory of their lives. That’s because when people see the world, they can gain exposure to lifestyles they didn’t even know existed. A visit to a place like the U.S. Capitol might inspire a future career, or a trip to a big city might spark a previously unknown desire for metropolitan living. Simply meeting new people can help students realize all the possibilities that are out there—whether that means leaving home to seek out similar opportunities, or bringing aspects of those experiences back home to their own community. “Travel provides a different scope of influence,” Mitch explains. “It shows students, ‘You can be this. Or, you can do this. You’re not tied into one specific way of life.’”
Building trust within the school district
As an administrator, Mitch recognizes how hard teachers work to help students grow into global citizens. He also recognizes that those teachers, along with students’ parents and guardians, need and deserve to feel that this goal is supported from the very top. That’s one of the reasons Mitch believes it’s important to offer a travel program at the district level. “It shows that the district itself wants students to be global learners,” he explains. Plus, it builds trust in the community, proving that the school system doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to expanding students’ growth and development through new experiences. Instead, by providing students with opportunities to see the world, helping them find ways to make the trip more affordable, and sometimes even leading the tours themselves, the administrators are—often quite literally—walking the walk.
Bringing the whole community together
Mitch’s travel program goes to places ranging from Washington, D.C. to Paris, giving students the chance to connect with people whose experiences largely differ from their own. However, because the program is district-wide, it also helps students build bonds with other community members who go to different schools. This strengthens the county as a whole, and gives everyone something to rally behind. As Mitch says, “People in the community want to support the initiative and be a part of it. Grandparents will say, ‘Hey, make sure you’re going on this trip. We’ll help you any way we can,’ because they understand the importance of seeing the world. And they want to make sure their children are afforded that opportunity.”
Connecting students to the bigger picture
In addition to strengthening ties among his local community, Mitch wants his students to recognize they’re part of an interconnected, global society. He loves that EF tours help them see and celebrate the differences among other people and places—but just as importantly—realize the innate similarities all humans share. “Sometimes people think if you go to a different country, the people are going to be so different,” he says. “But when you travel to new neighborhoods, you see that people cook dinner, they eat together, they socialize. No matter where you go, we all share a sense of human connectiveness.”
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