Monday 22 Sep, 2008

EF on NBC’s Today show

Students who travel with EF Educational Tours were highlighted this morning on NBC’s Today show.

On a segment called "Amazing Class Trips," Today‘s esteemed travel editor, Peter Greenberg, discusses high schools that are truly making the most out of their international travel experiences.

Greenberg profiled three public schools, including Port Charlotte High School in Florida. Students at Port Charlotte—who travel regularly with EF—started an international market based on their experiences on their EF tours.

Watch Peter Greenberg talk about these incredible students on the Today show:

Peter Greenberg also wrote a companion piece—titled "Amazing Field Trips – Traveling Beyond High School Borders"—for his website, PeterGreenberg.com.

He profiles five ordinary public schools—including Port Charlotte’s experiences with EF—that are providing extraordinary examples of what’s possible by taking advantage of educational travel.

Of the Port Charlotte students and EF Group Leader Bob Johnson, Greenberg writes:

"For 20 years Port Charlotte High School on the west coast of Florida
has been doing educational summer tours worldwide. World history and
religions teacher Bob Johnson, with the help of EF Educational Tours,
has been taking up to 50 students at a time to tried-and-true locations
in Europe, as well as edgier places like Bosnia, Kenya, Russia, Turkey,
Tunisia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Thailand.

"Twelve years ago, during one trip to a developing nation, some of
the kids took note of how little money the local artisans made from
selling their wares, and took the initiative to do something about it.
Back at home the students obtained grant money, partnered with the Fair
Trade Federation, and opened their own ‘fair trade market.’

"The market started out as a makeshift store on campus that sold
items out of a small office. Now they’ve progressed to an extensive
catalog and a storefront at the mall where they sell up to $175,000
worth of items during the holidays.

"The students also run a ‘mobile market’ that makes presentations to
churches and civic organizations in order to educate the community
about the struggle of artisans. They remind people that every $1000 in
sales keeps one family solvent for a year in the developing world.

"The fair trade project and the overseas trips are so popular that
students often save money for years in advance in order to go. Kids are
responsible for raising all of their own money as the school does not
pay for overseas travel. Eighty percent of the cost is self-funded
through summer jobs, parents, grandparents, carwashes, bake sales, and
church group donations. The other 20 percent comes from presentations
to civic organizations and clubs, where donations are solicited.

"Though Port Charlotte is currently the only school in America that’s
a member of the Fair Trade Association, it may not be so for long.
Johnson reports that a couple of other schools have contacted him about
how to start their own fair trade stores, so he may try to franchise
out the concept.

"In the meantime, the students continue to travel and expand their
horizons … and the store. In summer 2010, Johnson plans to take a group
to Spain, Portugal and Morocco, where the students, when they’re not
engaging in cultural and educational activities, will continue to seek
out more wares to add to their catalog and more merchants to help."