Monday 28 Nov, 2016

Memories from Tour: An Op-ed

Kay is a Middle School Spanish World Cultures Teacher. She first traveled with EF to Costa Rica in 2009 and has been leading student groups every summer since. Kay believes that students should experience travel to help broaden their perspectives and allow them to see firsthand how tolerant, global and open-minded we should all strive to become. Below is a compilation of some of the most magical moments she experienced with her students throughout her years of traveling. 

I believe in magic. I have experienced it on many occasions during my nine-year relationship with EF Educational Tours. As a group leader it is easy to get wrapped up in headcounts and passport checks, but over the years I’ve realized how important it is to take a step back and soak in the experience with your students. I’d like to share some of the most magical moments that my students and I have held onto throughout our years of traveling.

Just before we were to embark on our zip-lining adventure in Costa Rica, it began pouring rain. As enthusiasm began to dip, the storm stopped and the sun came out just long enough for my group to enjoy the canopy tour! A little luck, and a little EF magic. Conquering our fears together and zip-lining through the Costa Rican rainforest was definitely the highlight of the trip for everyone that we still talk about to this day.

kay-machu-picchu-image

On one of our first days in China we had clear blue skies and little traffic, something I was told doesn’t happen in this capital city very often. Luckily, this was also the day we were scheduled to enjoy a dragon boat cruise across the lake at the Summer Palace in Beijing – the largest and most well-preserved royal park in China. I later found out that it was the last day of the season for the boats to run. Whether it was luck, or some careful planning by EF, or a little bit of both, I feel very fortunate to have had such a beautiful day in Beijing, China.

EF magic also had a hand in getting my group to the top of the Eiffel tower before it closed, and getting us to see the inside of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. EF has always worked hard to make sure my students have a great international travel experiences that bring to life the lessons they have learned in the classroom. It has been beyond rewarding to provide my students these transformational experiences each year and as an educator I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to experience traveling to several countries across the world. Like my students, I have also been transformed by these experiences.

The most magical experience of my life was seeing Machu Picchu for the very first time with EF Tours. When I was 12 years old I saw a picture of Machu Picchu in my social studies book and I just knew I had to go there one day. Twenty-five years later, I was fortunate enough to travel to Peru with EF.

The staff were amazing and made sure the experience was everything I had hoped it to be. In order to truly soak in what we were about to see, our tour director lead the group into Machu Picchu with blindfolds on. After spending a few minutes just listening to the sounds of the lost city of the Incas, we were encouraged to take our blindfolds off. I carefully took mine off and there I was – standing and looking at the picture I had seen in the textbook so long ago. But this time it was with my own eyes and I was overwhelmed with emotion.

EF really can make your dreams come true and I have personally experienced something magical when you put students, teachers, and education first. Thank you EF!

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