For the past month or so (and particularly the past week or two) the itch to travel has hit me really hard. If I’m being honest, you could probably say it’s been something at the forefront of my mind for a good part of the current school year.
Last year one of the beginning teachers I mentor (I have THREE this year) received a travel grant to travel to England and Greece for conferences. I was impressed with her gusto for teaching and travel. This year I decided I was going to do the same – I mean, I am the global studies teacher AND a foreign language teacher. It’s been WAY too long since I’ve been outside the country to experience another place and culture. The thing that’s always seemed to be in the way is the excuse everyone gives – money and time commitments.
So, I applied for one that is given locally in the fall that would go to Ecuador and into the Amazon during the summer. I got invited to go to an interview for the grant in January. It went well. Didn’t get it… I do understand the reasoning though – they had tougher competition than in other years AND were truly looking for an educator who had NOT been outside the country. I’m lucky enough to have been outside the country twice (3 times if you really want to count the Bahamas?). More teachers need to experience another country and bring that into their classroom.
In late February my mentee (henceforth S) emailed me info about another travel grant possibility. It was pretty neat. It was through Hilton and was nationwide. It required an explanation of where you’d go and a proposal for how you’d bring it into the classroom upon return. After looking at ALL of the entries they would post the top 30 and then open it for public voting. S told me we’d get ALL of the kids in the school to vote on Facebook and of course my parents and their church said they’d do the same. After public voting for 30 days they’d announce the winners. Winner with an “s”! They were giving out grants that were higher than the local one I applied for earlier in the year AND schools that the teachers came from would get something out of it too – money to enhance global projects and education at the school level! Awesome.
I thought I had a pretty good entry myself. The trip was to Eastern Europe which I have had a fascination with since middle school. It visited Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. I distinctly remember the Holocaust unit that we did when I was in middle school and it was something that has stuck with me. I would have the opportunity to learn more about it and see the places I’d learned about! Add to that getting to PRAGUE which I’ve been kind of obsessed with since college and this was a dream trip. I shared all of these things AND the fact that a lot of my students don’t get to go outside the US (some don’t go beyond county borders either). This would have been a great opportunity to expose them to a part of the world that experienced so much but has risen above that adversity. Let’s add on top of that what I was going to do to incorporate it into my class… I cover human rights and refugees in 7th grade. HELLO. Much of what I was going to see, experience and learn about dealt with a lot of human rights issues! The Holocaust was the single largest human rights violation in HISTORY and prompted the creation of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Those are ALL things I cover in my class. I planned to create an entire unit based on the trip that incorporated what I was already covering but would be greatly enhanced by what I would be able to bring back.
I was pumped about all of that… Only to find out that I didn’t get it. I was a little let down at first. But you know, that one WAS nation-wide. Emphasis on NATION. Ah well. Time to move on. There’s always next year…
But since then I’ve been thinking more and more about places I want to go. And I kind of made promise to myself that I’d do something AWESOME the year I turn 30. That’s coming up this year. So. Year 30. What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? I’ve got a little list going. I’ve been looking at a bunch of travel blogs. Reading them is inspiring – especially the ones that remind you that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to go somewhere and WHY/HOW.
I’ve been considering HOW I can make this happen. Tax refund helps. I am instituting in May a “No Spend Month” – something I did a year or two ago. Might do another in the fall. Yesterday I bought a book by Nomadic Matt called How to Travel the World on $50 a Day. A lot of it comes down to me just STOPPING making money excuses. I don’t have to go for 1-2 months but a couple of weeks. If I take time to plan, I can do it.
I’ll have to share places I’m considering in the next couple of days and some of the blogs that have inspired me and added to the travel itch.
Where are you wanting to go?