I suspect as long as there are opportunities to explore our world, there will be people willing to head out to unfamiliar places to sample the culture of other countries. Swinging (on a swing) high in the Andes? Walking on the ocean floor off Belize? Hiking the Great Wall of China? Hunting for Nessie on Loch Ness? Yes, please.
Such is the case for self-professed “Travelmama” Kathryn Southwick-Hess, who has led six EF Student Travel Educational Tours in the past 12 years to a dozen countries with 175 students.
Walla Walla Public School teachers Dan Calzaretta and Diane Chamberlain have joined her in bringing global education to students who have gone on to study and work abroad, she said.
The mix has also included parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, adult siblings, cousins, fellow teachers and parent professors who are experts in biology, chemistry and history.
“We’ve celebrated eighth-grade and high school graduations on tour, along with birthdays and even one wedding anniversary for parents who brought their entire family of three kids,” Southwick-Hess recalled.
The latest trip, the EF Stories of Scotland tour, first postponed from 2020 to 2021, will now be moved to 2022 because of wellness concerns tied into the coronavirus pandemic.
In the mean time the group has grown to 17 travelers through virtual informational meetings and there’s room to add members to the travel family, she said.
Southwick-Hess has been planning the trip since 2018 and that included during the course of her husband’s two serious illnesses.
“I’ve decided to make this tour my last adventure with students. It is appropriate we visit my favorite country on earth, my ‘Spirit Country’ of Scotland. I love middle and high school students, but COVID has led me to believe I need to devote more time to my work in women’s healthcare and public health education,” she said.
She will host an informational meeting for the Scotland adventure at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, via Zoom. Middle and high school families and teachers are encouraged to join the meeting.
“We’ll turn Scotland into our global classroom! This will be an exciting tour of storytelling, bagpipes, Braveheart and Harry Potter — even a bit of Outlander,” she said.
The group will tour the University of Glasgow, guided by a previous EF traveler who is a graduate student there. The group will attempt to spot Nessie while cruising the famed Loch Ness and walk the Royal Mile, a succession of streets that form the main thoroughfare of Edinburgh’s Old Town in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.
She’ll talk trip details, EF’s risk-free enrollment period and the ways they’re managing student safety. EF has extended a $200 early enrollment discount.
On an EF trip to Belize on the Caribbean coast in Central America, Southwick-Hess said, they went down about 30 feet to walk the ocean floor by Ambergris Caye, an island off the coast of Belize City. “We took a boat trip out to the Blue Hole area for snorkeling one morning. The kids were fascinated to learn about Jacques Cousteau’s work in ocean environmentalism. Another afternoon was a boat trip closer to the Caye for SeaTrek and Snuba,” a cross between snorkeling and scuba diving.