Thursday, October 9, 2014

sharing the world

For me, my job is more than just a job.
Teaching 8th grade humanities is more than just instruction and grading and lesson planning.
It's about my kids and their futures.
And I am not talking about their careers.
They can figure that out themselves.
I am talking about the kind of people they choose to become.
I am talking about instilling in them the value of a dream and hard work and resilience and compassion and tolerance and fearlessness.
I am talking about helping them realize the world is a great, big place and they have the power to choose their place and role in it.

Travel, real exposure to the world, has changed me in ways I cannot begin to articulate.
I know it has made me a better human being.
I know it has enriched my life in numerous ways.
I know that is has made me the author of my own life, allowing me to choose where and how I spend my life, rather than simply accepting that because I was born an American my life was meant to be lived in America.

I have always dreamed of sharing my passion for travel with my students.
And now it's really happening.
It's no longer a dream, no longer a maybe.
Permission slips have been signed, passport photo pages have been photocopied and collected, and a travel agent will be contacted soon to purchase our airfare.
I, along with my husband and two great friends, will be taking nine of my students from last year, you know those kids I took to a Taiwanese amusement park (and those worries seem minor now), to Eastern Europe for two weeks this coming up summer.

What will we get up to in Eastern Europe?

We will fly from Taipei to Budapest and explore this breathtaking city. We could wander around ancient streets, poke into a castle and even soak in a thermal bath.
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We will hop on an overnight train to Sighisoara, Romania and get off the beaten path with a local guide to explore villages in the Romanian countryside and get a glimpse into the daily life of the villagers. 
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We will ride the rails to medieval Brasov and tour the Black Church. In town, the cafes are supposed to be legendary {woohoo!!}, the streets picturesque and the town vibrant and friendly.
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We will hop another train to Bucharest with a stop at Dracula's Castle along the way! While on the road, we will all read Dracula together and get to see with our own eyes the setting of the novel. As a language arts teacher, no classroom-based lesson plan can compare to that!
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Then, we will cross into Bulgaria and explore one of the oldest cities in the world, Veliko Tarnovo. We will poke around museums and hike into the hillside to get a panorama of the beautiful city. 
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Then we will head south to Sofia and visit some street markets and sample the city's cuisine!
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Next, we will head to Plovdiv to explore ancient Roman ruins.
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And last, what I am most excited for, we will hop an overnight train and wake up in Istanbul, Turkey where we will spend a few days exploring! I plan to stuff myself with delicious food each and every day!
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Doesn't this trip sound like such a dream?
I know, that's the whole point.
On the student application for the trip, they had to express why they want to spend two weeks with their teachers and fellow classmates and what they hope to get from their experience.
All of them mentioned a craving for independence, which I get.
All of them mentioned a craving for understanding their world and fellow human beings better.
Some of them even mentioned that they just really wanted to do something they had never done before and see something they had never seen before and experience the challenge of such an undertaking.
And I so get that too.

{Some of them even said they just kinda want to spend some time with their crazy teacher.}

I cannot wait to board a plane with these kids and let Eastern Europe completely rock their worlds!
I hope this experience creates in them an insatiable curiosity about the world.
I hope it creates the desire to experience and see even more of it!

I hope this is one of many things that help them become the person they would like to be.
I know that is what travel has done for me.





This post is part of the Sunday Traveler link up. Check out the link up for more great travel writing + photography. 

18 comments

  1. Wow! I have chills just thinking about what an experience this will be for all of you! You are very brave but this will be such an amazing adventure! Just so cool!! Can I come too?? :)

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    1. We are all very excited! I can't wait for the kids to see something other than Taiwan or America.

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  2. I hope you like it here in Bulgaria! Have a great time!

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    1. Bulgaria looks amazing! I cannot wait. Where are you from in Bulgaria?

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    2. Thank you! I am from Sofia but there are many other interesting places to see as well :)

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  3. I wish I was in your class going on this school trip! Your schedule looks absolutely incredible and I cannot wait to read all about it on the blog when you get back.

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  4. Wowwwwwwww. This trip sounds amazing!!! I want to come to!!

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    1. I know, doesn't it! A lot of the parents wanted to come too :)

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  5. This sounds amazing!! I have lots of info on Istanbul and Budapest on my blog www.mooistestedentrips.nl if you need it (but I think you have your research covered, teehee!)

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    1. Awesome! I will definitely check it out.

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  6. Wow! I love that the students mentioned a craving to understand their world and other human beings better. I hope they find that and so much more on this trip.

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  7. What an amazing experience that will be! As an international elementary teacher I feel like I miss out on opportunities to lead groups overseas. I don't imagine my third grade parents allowing their kids to go abroad for a couple of weeks. :( Are you using a tour company or is the school helping you organize everything?

    I plan on seeing a couple of the places you mentioned this coming summer too. I can't wait to compare notes!

    -Amanda at http://teachingwanderlust.com/

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    1. We are using a travel company called G Adventures.
      http://www.gadventures.com/
      Both my colleague and I felt like this company had the most to offer our students and we both know educators who have taken students overseas with this company.

      My school has been very supportive but also very hands off. We have had to sort out every last detail ourselves. That said, it's coming together very nicely and we are ready to start purchasing airfare!

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  8. Wow! This is amazing. Can I please be one of your students? How did you get this all approved? So cool! If I could teach English like this, I think I would enjoy teaching a lot more.

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    1. Thanks! I teach at an international school in Taiwan and I find this school to be much more willing and open minded about "risky" experiences than schools in the states, which are always looking over their shoulder for fear of being sued. That said, we are using a very reputable travel company that leads groups of students + educators around the world. Basically, my school said if we could convince parents, then we had its support too. We are very excited!

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