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Students Learn Benefits of Foreign Travel

Felicia Rogers from Walking Tree Travel explains the different travel choices available to the students in Seá¹…ora Thompson's Spanish II classes.

Students in Seṅora Stacie Thompson’s Spanish classes recently had the opportunity to hear about the benefits of foreign travel through a visit from guest speaker Seṅora Felicia Rogers. Rogers work with Walking Tree Travel, an organization that encourages high school students to become global citizens by taking an active interest in the world around them. They do this by arranging educational itineraries to more than 19 countries that involve community service projects, immersion into cultural life, speaking the local language, and adventures such as hiking, biking, kayaking, or surfing.

Rogers told the students that foreign travel can bolster the college application process by providing community service opportunities and topics for college essays. Foreign travel also looks great on job applications. Rogers, who lives in Washington DC, explained that she first got her start traveling through a mission trip to the Dominican Republic when she was 18. She described how the experience changed her life and gave her a hunger for travel. She told the students it provided new experiences, new food, new culture, and new friends. She explained that trips can be based on meaningful service adventures, conservation expeditions involving hands-on field work, or global leadership activities that cultivate self-confidence and teamwork. Some trips include homestays actually living with a family and becoming immersed in their lives and culture. Rogers also told the students about financial aid and fundraising possibilities that can help cover the costs of travel.

Sophomore Cody Ketchum said, “It showed me that there is a purpose behind learning a new language. We can use it to communicate and help new people. It definitely makes me want to learn a foreign language more. It would help me to have great experiences abroad.”

Freshman Kelly Carrazzone agreed, “Now I realize there are opportunities out there to test my language limits.”

Seṅora Thompson also shared her own travel experiences with the students. When she was a student she heard about foreign travel from a guest speaker and wondered if it was something she would like to do. “At first I thought of all these obstacles, but the speaker solved all my problems! I thought to myself, ‘I have no excuse not do this!’”

She said to the students, “Whatever obstacles are in your head – ask questions about them! I went from just wanting to take Spanish I and II - to minoring in it – to making it a career!”  Thompson has visited the Spanish speaking countries of Mexico, Spain, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and Panama.

“Travel when you’re young!” was Seṅora Thompson’s further advice to her students.

“Hearing Mrs. Thompson’s advice made me realize one trip can turn your entire life /career path to a totally different direction. She didn’t even love Spanish until she took a foreign trip and now she is a high school Spanish teacher! That really made me reconsider the effect a trip like that can have on your life,” said Carrazzone.

She continued, “I enjoyed learning about the Walking Tree Travel. It made me realize a one to four week trip can change your entire life. At first I didn’t even consider the trip, but now I can see what an impact it can have on your life and it makes me want to try it. I would love to visit Costa Rica! I’d love to do an environmental project. I would also like to work with kids over there in poverty stricken areas or orphanages.”

Freshman Brianne Goebel said, “The speaker opened my eyes to the opportunities to help make a change and make new friends. It made me feel a lot more confident in going outside my comfort zone to make a difference.”

“This event directly related to the Spanish curriculum by providing students an insight into Latin American culture and inspiration to travel and use their Spanish in real life situations. They were able to hear about opportunities for comparing their culture with the Latin American culture. They learned about values, beliefs, ideas, and attitudes that are an integral part of life in Spanish speaking countries,” said Thompson.

For more information on Walking Tree Travel, visit www.walkingtree.org.

Written by: Paula White
Posted: Feb 25, 2014 by Paula White

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