EF One on One

The power of training tours: A conversation between teachers

EF One on One is a conversation series between Group Leaders. A first-time Group Leader sits down with a teacher who’s led many tours to talk about their experiences and thoughts on educational travel with EF.

With their recent training tour winding down, Sarai P., an art teacher and first-time Group Leader from Texas, and Cheryl O., an English teacher from Missouri who’s been on dozens of tours, settled into a conversation in the gardens of Versailles. In the second installment of our EF One on One series, they talk about the training tour experience, their goals, and the power travel has on students and teachers alike.

Meet Group Leaders Cheryl O. and Sarai P. Cheryl, an English teacher from Missouri, has led 19 student tours with EF and been on 13 training tours. Sarai P., an art teacher from Texas, led her very first EF tour in June 2022.

“There are so many people like me”


Sarai loves the fellow educators at her school, but she still feels like a bit of a misfit. But looking around on the training tour, she realized she wasn’t alone in her desire to take on what sometimes feels like a crazy adventure. Pair that with the tour-planning and on-tour support from EF that was on full display, and suddenly she understood there’s a whole community that has her back. “I’ve got this because I know I have the support from EF,” Sarai says.

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Taking the first step


Sarai remembers feeling lost. In high school, she couldn’t clearly see an academic path forward. And didn’t think a trip to Paris was possible for someone in her community. But when a teacher unexpectedly led a tour to Europe, walking the city’s streets was a revelation. “It just really blew open the world for me. I kind of saw a new avenue for me,” she says. After becoming a teacher, it took a little while to convince herself she was ready to lead her own tour. But now she’s excited to pass the experience on to her own students.


Walking a little taller


At this point, Cheryl almost knows what to look for. But that doesn’t stop her from being surprised on every EF tour she takes. Recently, she led a tour to Paris where a student who doesn’t feel comfortable at school suddenly became a leader among her peers. “I watched her blossom before my eyes,” says Cheryl. Hearing the story, Sarai’s own eyes light up as she begins to wonder which of her students will have their own transformative experience on tour.


“The ripple effect of inspiration”


This conversation in Versailles culminates Chery’s thirteenth training tour. Which means she’s influenced and mentored a huge number of other Group Leaders along their own journey to take students on tour. Sarai, for one, is hugely inspired after spending the weekend together. And that inspiration keeps perpetuating itself. The two educators discuss how traveling with kids can lead to countless possibilities, from a desire to just see more of the world to thinking about their careers in a new way. “It’s not just about checking a place off your bucket list. It’s about truly understanding more about yourself, more about the world, and more about yourself in the world,” says Cheryl.


We’re all in this together


Students aren’t the only ones with things left to learn. “I got comfortable. So I wanted to challenge myself,” Sarai says. “There’s still room for me to learn as an educator. I felt the fire in me again, and I can’t wait to pass that on to my students.” Having never led a tour before, Sarai knows she’ll be learning right alongside her students, and she’s happy to be honest with them about that. After traveling on countless trips with her own students, Cheryl knows that coming into the travel experience with that sense of empathy allows students to put their own fears to rest, opening them up to absorbing the full experience.

A photo of the statues at the Palace of Versailles.

Explore the entire EF One on One series

Looking for more honest conversations between Group Leaders? We can’t blame you. In fact, we could binge watch them all day. Check out the rest of the series to see what other teachers are talking about.

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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.