Our educational travel blog is a way for us—and our travelers—to share ideas and tips about traveling the world. It’s a place to learn the latest news in travel and education, or to just read a good story.

So, don’t vegetate “in one little corner of the earth,” let us know what you think. Share your opinions and ideas with a comment below any blog post.

EF Tour Director, Paul Mattesini
Paul Mattesini

EF Tour Director – England

EF career path:

I joined EF in 1992 and have since led more than 200 tours to 50 countries. I spent a year in Boston working in the customized department, and I still check most customized itineraries each year. These days, I lead several tours a year, but I also work with product development, designing and adjusting tours, and I look after the tour director website.

The early years:

I was born and raised in the U.K. At the age of 15, I took a break from school and traveled throughout Europe for five years, before returning home and completing night school, leading to the University of London, where I studied history.

The EF family:

I spent two years managing the London regional office (1999-2001), where I was responsible for allocating tours and hiring and training tour directors. I liked Michelle McHale so much as a new tour director that we married in 2004! We have two daughters.

Living the good life:

Having lived in Spain for a few years, we are now back in rural England with a growing collection of chicken, sheep and rabbits.

Hobbies:

Love backgammon, dancing with my daughter, keeping bees and cooking. As the son of an Italian chef, I was cooking from the age of 6 on.

Favorite sport:

Arsenal football (soccer). I was a former season-ticket holder and once bought a flat so I could live less than a mile from the stadium.

Best travel destination:

Thailand, without a doubt. I love it.

Favorite tour destination:

Prague

Gail Ingram

EF Group Leader and High School History Teacher – Cheraw, South Carolina

EF connections:

I’ve been an EF Group Leader since 1993, and I’m a member of EF’s Education Council. I also have been an experienced group leader presenter at 15 EF International Training Tours, including 12 in Paris, the first one in Beijing, Berlin and Rome. I have been a guest speaker at EF staff events in Boston, Denver and Lucerne.

The early years:

I was born in Tokyo, Japan (my mother is Japanese and my father was American), and I was a “military brat” until I entered high school. I was an exchange student in England for one year when I was in college.

Teaching interests:

International student and teacher group travel, and National History Day. My students have been winning national NHD awards since 2000, and I have won two national teaching awards, including the 2010 Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award.

Hobbies:

Walking (I walk a minimum of 25 miles each week); reading (I’m the moderator/newsletter editor for a local book club made of several of my former teaching colleagues who are now retired); and cleaning house and ironing (it’s a great stress-reliever, believe it or not).

Favorite travel destinations:

Anywhere in the United Kingdom and Ireland, plus Japan, India, Vietnam and Thailand. I love the graciousness and kindness of the people in these countries, and the wonderful food—yes, even in the U.K.!

Dream travel destination:

A walking tour of any country in the world, where the day ends with a fabulous meal and a hot bath.

Proudest accomplishment:

Proudest accomplishment: Having two children (Ruth, 29, and Mark, 26) who have become experienced world travelers and “global citizens,” thanks to all of the EF tours they took with their mother, study abroad semesters in college, foreign work experience in Japan, graduate school in Scotland, and lots of personal international travel.

EF Group Leader, Scott Hemker
Scott Hemker

EF Group Leader and High School Spanish and Math Teacher – St. Louis, Michigan

EF connections:

I’ve been an EF Group Leader since 2000.  I’ve lead 7 different tours to Spain, Mexico, and Costa Rica.  This fall I will serve as a Global Educational Ambassador and help other teachers from Michigan plan and lead student tours thru EF.

The early years:

I was born in Saginaw, Michigan.  My father worked as an engineer for General Motors and my mother was a secretary at our local public school.  After high school I attended Saginaw Valley State University and obtained my teaching degree.  I spent parts of two summers living, studying, and traveling in Mexico.

My passion:

I love teaching and working with young people.  I’m very passionate about teaching the Spanish language and the Spanish speaking cultures.  I’m proud to be able to make the language come alive by providing travel opportunities for students in my small, rural hometown of St. Louis, MI.

Hobbies:

In the summer, I enjoy spending time at many of the beautiful lakes in northern Michigan. Waterskiing, kneeboarding, fishing, and gardening are a few of my summer hobbies. In the fall, I spend a lot of time in the woods hunting. I also enjoy running, watching, coaching, and playing numerous sports, and spending time with my wife and two young boys.

Favorite travel destination:

I absolutely love Mexico, its tasty foods (and drinks too!), its music, and its culture. The people of Mexico have a special passion for their country and enjoy sharing it with those that come to visit. Murals from some of the world’s best artists are found in towns all over the country. The history is rich and several ruins have been left behind for us to appreciate.  Discovering Mexico also allows us to learn numerous, valuable life lessons.

Dream trip:

I’d love to travel from Mexico all the way thru Central America and South America and visit as many Spanish speaking countries as possible.

Proudest accomplishment:

Building strong relationships with my students and making a difference in their lives on a daily basis.

Guest contributors
Periodically, EF staff members from around the world will share their thoughts on living, working and traveling abroad. Experienced teachers, college professors and student travelers will also write about their experiences in the Global Classroom. We’d love to hear from you, too. If you would like to contribute, please email us at equator@ef.com.

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