Group Leader, GA
But after a few minutes, you realize he doesn’t come up with all that energy on his own—he’s channeling every single person who has helped on his journey to building a robust travel program at his school in Atlanta, Georgia, where he works as a Social and Cultural Studies Curriculum Coordinator.
That spirit starts with a shy student in the first class he ever taught. After months trying to get her to open up, she finally asked to go on a field trip. Before Ashley could suggest the brand-new Georgia Aquarium or zoo, she requested to go out of the country.
“That put a spark in me to say, ‘This is possible. You can do this,’” Ashley remembers. “It’s all her. Every soul I touch right now is because of her.” Even with that inspiration, he couldn’t have predicted where that one question would lead. Today, Ashley takes students all over Europe on tours intensely and intricately integrated into the curriculum, and ventures even further during the summer. As he explains how much his students get out of each trip, you hear the awe of those first-time travelers in Ashley’s voice.
With so many trips to juggle, you also sense his appreciation for the teamwork that goes into making each one possible. Ashley’s taken 21 trips (and counting) with EF, and the partnership is a well-oiled machine. His Tour Consultant knows exactly how to incorporate the school’s curriculum into the itinerary, implement EF’s personalized learning guide to enhance the experience, and even take care of special requests. On each tour, Ashley’s groups visit a foreign school to get a sense for what education is like abroad, and EF makes sure they have that worked into their itinerary.
The relationship really pays off when things don’t go according to plan. Last spring, Ashley’s group realized they wouldn’t be able to travel to Italy only a few days before departure. Before he knew it, there were three new options to propose to parents, and the 38-person tour set off to Panama. Even though it was a busy few days, Ashley said making the switch was simple and his students raved about the unexpected experience. “It was the best decision we could have made,” he says.
More than anything when talking to Ashley, you feel his excitement to keep bringing people together and changing lives through travel. “What I’m doing right now is bigger than what I initially conceived it to be. [Through] students interacting with other cultures and other people, I am offering them a different view of the world that will contextualize how they are able to function within the global society.”
As the conversation wraps up, you can’t help but realize how lucky we are to have people as passionate as Ashley introducing students to the world. “I know I am put here on this earth to affect change in other people. And travel is the means in which I do that.”
Even an educational travel program as robust as Ashley’s had to start somewhere. Whether you’ve got big dreams to build a program of your own or just want to get out there and see what educational travel is all about, these attractions live up to the hype (and then some).
Urubamba Province, Peru