Upon arrival, I was able to find a couple of other teachers at the hotel who wanted to walk around D.C. for awhile before our first official welcoming reception. Although it was a brisk walk in 30 degree weather, we had a great time discussing our upcoming travels and seeing some of the sights of D.C. I was most impressed by the Korean War Memorial which was really eerie but really beautiful. It was also important for me to see the Vietnam War Memorial as my Dad fought in that war. Seeing the sheer amount of names etched into the black granite was incredibly sobering. I was quite surprised at how reflective the surface was as it enabled you to have a unique view of D.C. while looking at the mass of names...really amazing.
It is pretty incredible to have so much brainpower in one room! The past few days I spent meeting with amazing teachers from all over the U.S. who, like me, are traveling abroad this spring or summer through Teachers for Global Classrooms sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Besides hearing some great speakers and discussing how to globalize education at our schools around the U.S., the highlight of the Washington D.C. trip was meeting the teachers that we will be traveling with to Senegal. We have such a great group of people! We were able to go out to a West African restaurant together on Friday night to try some typical food of the region. (The food was spicy! and I even tried goat...!) It was so fun to discuss the similarities and differences of our cities and schools plus discuss our upcoming anticipation about our travels to Africa. We leave in about 6 weeks!
It bit me when I was 18. I was a senior in high school and up until that point, had not done much traveling out of the state, let alone the country. Through my high school Spanish class, I had to the opportunity to travel to Spain and I could not wait! My parents saved and scrimped and devoted part of their hard-earned money as teachers to allow me to experience international travel and it changed my life forever.
Since that point, traveling has remained one of my top priorities. I am fascinated by anything global; from the inner workings of an airport, to local cuisine, to the layouts of cities, to the movements of people. I was hooked at 18 and my passion to explore everywhere still burns intensely. As a junior in college, I participated in a study abroad program called Eurospring which enabled me to study and live in England, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic. My travels have also led me back to Spain to visit my amazing "family" that I met and stayed with on my senior trip as well as various places in the Caribbean, Central America, and all over the U.S. Today, I am incredibly fortunate to co-lead international trips with our wonderful students from Grand Rapids High School. This summer we have a fantastic trip planned to Spain, France, and Italy and next summer we are headed to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. One of the best parts of my job as a teacher is to be able to experience international travel with students, who for the most part, have never been out of the country. I can't wait to make more memories on our upcoming trips!
The travel bug bit me big time last summer when I received notification of being chosen to travel internationally with Teachers for Global Classrooms, a program that focuses on the importance of global education. After completing a rigorous eight week course on all things related to global education, we waited impatiently on word of where our international placements would be. On Friday, December 18th during my 6th hour study hall, I got the email I had been waiting for: I was going to SENEGAL!!! I couldn't believe that traveling to Africa was in my near future! I told all of my students, friends, and family and many of them immediately had questions about safety and health. I assured them that the U.S. State Department (who funds Teachers for Global Classrooms) was well-educated on all of these issues and that I would be very prepared for my travels. Next week I head to Washington D.C. to meet with the other teachers who are part of TGC and to start to discuss our international travels. I have no idea what to expect and I love that. One of the best parts of travel is the anticipation before it happens......
As I get ready to go, what should I make sure to learn? Besides vaccines, how else can I prepare for my trip? What can I do ahead of time to make sure my trip is the best it can be?