Teach & Travel March 2023

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THE LEADING SOURCE FOR EDUCATORS WHO PLAN STUDENT TRAVEL v23i4 | Published by Serendipity Media, LLC The Voice of Student & Youth Travel® SYTA IN THIS ISSUE: DMO s + CVB s OUR MINDS MATTER: STUDENT-LED SUPPORT COMING TOGETHER: TRAVEL UNITY SUMMIT ENDLESS FUN Teach&TravelMARCH 2023 in Sunny Orlando PENNSYLVANIA: JOURNEY TO AMERICA'S BEGINNINGS UNFORGETTABLE ADVENTURES IN JAMAICA

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SYTA.ORG 1 IN THIS ISSUE VOLUME 23 ISSUE 4 MARCH 2023 FEATURES 24 JOURNEY TO AMERICA'S BEGINNINGS in Industrious Pennsylvania 30 ENDLESS FUN in Sunny Orlando 36 BEYOND THE SHORELINE: Unforgettable Adventures in Jamaica DEPARTMENTS 6 STAYING EDUCATED Our Minds Matter: Student-Led Support 8 PROFILE Douglas Macauley: The Endurance of Community 10 SAFE TRAVELS Safety in the City 40 TRIP BEHAVIOR Clique-Busting: Students Helping Each Other 42 EXPERIENCES Coming Together: Travel Unity Summit 44 STUDENTS SPEAK Learning to Build a World Beyond War NEWS + UPDATES 2 SYTA PRESIDENT'S LETTER 3 TRAVEL NEWS 4 DESTINATION UPDATES SPECIAL SECTION 13 DMO s + CVB s Trip Planning and Destination Experts THE COVER © SeaWorld Orlando
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MARCIE ELLISON Outerbridge

sSpring travel season has arrived, and it’s exciting to see so many student groups getting “on the road again”!  In fact, the demand for travel is extremely high as teachers worldwide once again bring the classroom alive for their students.

In this issue, we highlight destinations from historic Pennsylvania to fun-filled Orlando, along with authentic trips to Jamaica and the surrounding Caribbean. With the help of Jamaica Volunteer Programs, we take a look at how students can come away with a truly life-changing experience when they venture beyond the island’s all-inclusive resorts.

We also take a look at mental health, exploring how students can actually help each other via programs like the DC-based Our Minds Matter, and how to dissolve cliques and bring students together on trips. After a stressful and somewhat isolated past few years, students need support and community more than ever.

This issue also gives some tips on staying safe in the big cities, now that big destinations like New York City, Chicago and Toronto are open for group trips.

Finally, our annual CVB/DMO special section explains why working with the local experts at your destination is the way to go, in addition to working with a SYTA tour operator. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to face the challenges of student travel alone—we at SYTA are here to help in every way we can, from recommending destinations, and crafting itineraries to making local connections, handling minutia and keeping students safe.

Looking forward to the year ahead, we can’t wait to see you all on the road, once again enjoying the opportunity to experience the impact that travel can have on young minds!

SYTA STRATEGIC PARTNERS

2 TEACH & TRAVEL MAGAZINE | MARCH 2023 NOTE | SYTA PRESIDENT
TRAVEL INSURED INTERNATIONAL A CRUM & FORSTER COMPANY

WORLD IS A CLASSROOM Essay Contest

Do your students have a story to tell about a favorite trip, and what they learned from it? Did they learn how fish breathe underwater, while visiting an aquarium? Did they experience how different it is to live in France, while visiting Paris with their high school French class? Did they catch a glimpse of Canadian history through one of the country’s museums or national monuments?

Students who write an essay describing what they learned and how they were affected by their travel experience could earn a scholarship of up to $1,500. They must be currently enrolled in a secondary public or private academic institution and in grades nine through 12. Essay length should not exceed 525 words.

The $1,500 scholarship and a commemorative plaque will be awarded to the author of the first-place winning essay. This student may be invited to read their article in-person or via video during the SYTA Youth Foundation Luncheon at the SYTA Annual Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Sunday, August 20, 2023.

Writers of the second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-place entries will receive a $1,000 cash scholarship. The SYTA Youth Foundation offers these scholarships to students who use their creativity to compose an article or speech that illustrates a student travel experience.

All prize-winning essays will be featured in Teach & Travel magazine.

The 2023 World is a Classroom Essay Contest is open through April 28, 2023. Results will be announced in June 2023. Please contact SYF at info@sytayouthfoundation.org if you have questions.

For additional information about the contest and to submit an entry, visit sytayouthfoundation.org/world-is-a-classroom-essay-contest.

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MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

The Museum of Illusions is now open in Washington, D.C., welcoming the public in at the very end of 2022. This is an education and entertainment wonderland, fit for ages 3 to 103. The museum’s unique hands-on experience is designed to include illusionistic rooms, optical illusions and a playroom with didactic games and puzzles, with all exhibits on science, mathematics and psychology, allowing visitors to learn about vision, perception, and the human brain through attractive and fun exhibits. Guests can expect to see Washingtonian culture integrated throughout the Museum as they are welcomed by the wandering eyes of George Washington, or seemingly hang from the ceiling of the reverse room, inspired by the Metro’s blue line. Visit moiwashington.com for more details.

FLYING HIGH

Groups who love to get their thrills through an adrenaline rush won’t want to miss a new, recordbreaking ride arriving in spring 2023 at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

The new ride, Serengeti Flyer, is the world’s tallest and fastest ride of its kind: A screamin’ swing! With each swing, riders will soar higher and higher above Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s expansive 65-acre Serengeti Plain while experiencing multiple negative-G moments before plunging back toward Earth. Serengeti Flyer will feature twin dueling arms that soar progressively higher, reaching speeds of 68 mph and a

maximum height of 135 feet at the ride’s peak. To learn more, check out buschgardens.com.

HISTORY OF THE FUTURE

Coming March 23, 2023 to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is a major, thought-provoking new exhibition, Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures. The

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DESTINATION UPDATES

Smithsonian defines Afrofuturism as an evolving concept expressed through a Black cultural lens that reimagines, reinterprets and reclaims the past and present for a more empowering and inclusive tomorrow. Through the 4,300-square-foot temporary exhibition, groups will be able to view a variety of objects from Afrofuturism pioneers, including Octavia Butler’s typewriter, Nichelle Nichols’ Star Trek uniform

as the character Lt. Nyota Uhura and Nona Hendryx’s spacesuitinspired costume worn while performing with LaBelle. The exhibition also utilizes select objects to elevate stories that speak to Black liberation and social equality, such as Trayvon Martin’s flight suit from Experience Aviation, and his childhood dream of being an astronaut. Head to nmaahc.si.edu for more info.

MERRY LAND

Get ready to pack in the fun! Located less than one hour from Washington, D.C., Baltimore and just 30 minutes from Gettysburg, Frederick, Maryland is the perfect basecamp for a regional student tour. Climb, swing, and zip through the trees on 30 acres of protected forest on 15 trails and 8 difficulty levels at Tree Trekkers. Crossing bridges, tightrope walks, tunnels and ziplines, allow climbers to take on aerial obstacle courses that can reach up to heights of more than 65 ft above the forest floor.

The challenge of vintage pinball games is enjoyed by the young and old alike at Spinners Pinball Arcade in Frederick. Leave the quarters behind—at this arcade, you only pay once and play all day. The arcade is filled with the neon glow of a large selection of new as well as classic games. Transport to a world of fun at 4D Fun Center. Test your skills on an array of arcade games, relax on a couch at one of the 15 bowling lanes, play a game of laser tag, or attempt an escape from one of two on-site escape rooms. Groups can enjoy dinner at the full restaurant. For more information, head to visitfrederick.org.

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OUR MINDS MATTER: STUDENT-LED SUPPORT

As educators know, when teens need help, they rarely ask for it. It can be a lonely time of life, when academic pressure is mounting, emotions are running high and you assume no one knows what you’re going through.

That’s why, 11 years ago, Lauren Anderson founded Our Minds Matter (OMM) in Fairfax, Virginia. Originally the Josh Anderson Foundation, the goal was to address mental health in honor of Lauren’s brother, who died by suicide at the age of 17. Anderson wondered how she could help struggling teenagers, when even her well-liked, driven brother clearly suffered in silence.

Early discussions with teens found they didn’t know who to talk to. School counselors only provide academic support, and even school psychologists aren’t particularly trusted by students. OMM launched a few mental health initiatives and learned that most schools have an appetite for much more, desiring a year-round space to discuss these challenges.

Hence, the student-led OMM, “an accessible and structured way for students to continue conversations around mental health through studentled clubs that hold weekly or bi-weekly meetings, activities and events all centered around important mental health topics like stigma reduction, healthy habits, and coping skills.”

Now in over 130 schools nationwide—with the goal of reaching 500 by 2025—OMM has seen great success with its proactive, student-led approach. They’re not waiting for teens to come to adults with problems, but rather establishing a framework for support that anyone can use when they need to. “Teens are most influenced by their peers,” Anderson explains. “By equipping a smaller group of student advocates around mental health in a school community, there is the ability to have a strong ripple effect to the rest of the student body.”

6 TEACH & TRAVEL MAGAZINE | MARCH 2023 STAYING EDUCATED
mMental health is a real issue for students around the world, but we may be able to turn things around.

Over the years, Anderson has seen struggling students not just get support for their mental health through OMM, but turn into leaders themselves and pay it forward to younger students.

“One student comes to mind who joined her OMM club when she was a freshman,” Anderson said. “At that time, she was quite reserved and quiet and was significantly struggling with her own mental health issues. The club allowed her the opportunity to channel her experiences into something positive and impact others around her. By her sophomore year, she was a club leader. She continued to be actively involved throughout the rest of high school, and even went on to be a voice in the mental health space.”

If you’re an educator interested in helping your students, one way is to get connected with OMM, and another is to educate yourself. Anderson suggests Be There Certificate, a quick online program that teaches how to recognize signs of struggle, how to build trust, what to say, etc.

“Don’t be afraid to ask students how a student has been feeling if you notice something is off,” Anderson said. “You don’t have to be a mental health professional to be a person of support.”

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THE ENDURANCE OF COMMUNITY: CANADA’S LONGEST STANDING YOUTH BAND

their recent collaboration with the Squamish Nation (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw). “Our work with the Squamish Nation was originally planned to be a single event,” Macauley said. “I approached an Elder I know and asked if they would be willing to share a traditional song for us to re-imagine for our band and then perform together. The result was The Gathering Of Eagles.”

The complete piece was performed with Eagle Song Dancers (Spakwus Slolem) in 2018 to great success. “This work was published worldwide by Hal Leonard and immediately became a top selling work for band. Following this success, we decided to extend the project and added two more works: Wolf Song and The Raven Together, the three pieces form The Squamish Symphony This project is the first of its kind. The WVYB continues to develop a legacy that extends far beyond the walls of our rehearsal hall and our own community.”

The full performance of the Squamish Symphony is available on WVYB’s YouTube page, but the band is just getting started, with a tour of performances across Canada in the year ahead, all the way from Victoria, B.C. to St. John’s, Newfoundland. We asked Macauley to tell us more about the band and what’s in store for 2023.

tThe longest standing community youth band in Canada recently celebrated its 90th birthday.

Founded in 1930, the West Vancouver Youth Band has a long and illustrious legacy, touring the world extensively, becoming the official band of West Vancouver in 1995, and commissioning/premiering dozens of original work from composers. The current director, Douglas Macaulay is the longest serving at 30 years, passing only the legendary Arthur Delamont (active 1933-1958).

While the COVID-19 pandemic put a brief pause on 90th anniversary celebrations in 2020, the band kept rehearsing at home and online, and they have a huge year ahead.

One of the most exciting aspects of the WVYB is

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PROFILE

Can you tell us about your own personal history with WVYB?

I began with the band in 1993. At the time, the band was struggling. Numbers were down (36 total members) and the quality of music making was at a low point. I developed a three- and fiveyear plan and started rebuilding. We are now over 200 members and have built (in partnership with the district of West Vancouver) a new, purpose built, acoustically designed rehearsal hall, The WVYB Community Music Hall, designed to seat 120 musicians comfortably.

What do you have going on this year that’s exciting?

During the pandemic, we had only two concerts in two years. Then last spring, we had 11 in three months as things restarted. Since September, we’ve had our full season schedule. We’ve led the Remembrance Day parade and ceremony, performed for the civic Christmas tree lighting, the civic menorah lighting and our own winter concert. Next week (January 2023), we are doing a special performance for Lunar New Year with guest artists from Vancouver’s Asian community.

What do you love about WVYB?

My favourite thing about the WVYB is the sense of community amongst the musicians. Our musicians come from schools across Vancouver’s north shore as well as Vancouver. They form a remarkable community who support each other and form friendships that carry on long after their time in the band. They are also connected to history as they see the photos and video of the WVYB over its 93 year history. Many alumni come back and sit in with the band on occasion making a direct connection.

What do you see WVYB members getting out of travel?

Travel has always been an important part of the WVYB—from its first band camp in 1931, to its win at the Kierkegaard, Holland band festival in 1958, to its Gold medal and first place standing at the Hawaii International Festival in 2001 and several concert tours of Europe since 2007.

Do you have a travel highlight that stands out?

Traveling as a group has had a profound effect on all those who participate in WVYB tours. Seeing the students take in an entirely new reality is extraordinary. I recall an occasion when we had just arrived in Germany and the students were just wandering in the area just outside our hostel; one young man was standing on a bridge over the river and was teary eyed. We asked if everything was ok and he said, “It’s all just so beautiful.” There have been many moments from the silly to the profound during our travels: from sunburns in Hawaii to the absolute silence on our bus after performing a concert of remembrance on the Vimy Ridge Memorial; from a scavenger hunt in Heidelberg to earning top marks at a festival in Calgary; and from visiting the medieval torture museum in Germany to touring Mozart’s home in Austria.

What do you like about Ellison Travel & Tours?

We began working with Ellison Travel and Tours because of their commitment to ethics and transparency. Although the exceptional service Ellison consistently provides is wonderful, it is the trust that we value most. When we travel as a group, we are handing over the care of our students as well as tens of thousands of dollars to a travel provider. With Ellison, we always know that the bus will be on time, that the accommodations will be good and that the concerts and activities will be engaging and fun, but more importantly, we can be confident in the trust we place in them will be valued and never taken for granted.

Final thoughts?

Traveling with my group of 80 or more musicians is exhausting and exhilarating. It’s a privilege to see them grow and mature at an accelerated pace as they learn to exist in an unfamiliar place, away from their families. The students form bonds that improve the culture of our organization and friendships within our group and with people they meet while traveling that last a lifetime.

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SAFETY IN THE CITY

WAIT TO POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA | While not necessarily the most likely danger, posting photos or live streaming as you travel in the city could potentially tell people exactly where you are and set you up for potential threats. Save posts until the end of the day.

KEEP IT PUBLIC | Students can be relatively easily lured away by a local who seems cool and promises to show them a unique, private location. As adults, we’re not interested, but remind students to always stay in public and never trust a stranger to take them away from the larger group.

USE COMMUNICATION APPS | Be sure your group uses a communication travel app for faster real-time messaging or updates. You can find your own, or your tour operator might even have their own, but a great travel app will let you easily communicate with the group and give you important information like safety procedures, meeting places, and itinerary changes.

TRAVEL LIGHT | You’ll be doing lots of walking, so don’t bring too much. Take only what you’ll need for the day: Phone, water, ID, cash, debit card, face covering. Leave anything truly irreplaceable somewhere safe like the hotel room or bus to avoid the risk of it slipping out of your pocket or being stolen.

tTraveling to a big city is an exciting and unique opportunity, but of course, it comes with its own challenges. Issues like theft, health and keeping track of each other are made more difficult by large crowds and public transport, so it takes a bit of extra preparation to be safe and sound. If it’s been a few years since your student group has managed to make the trip, we’re here to give you a refresher and help you have a safe trip in your metropolis of choice.

VALUABLES TO THE FRONT | Backpacks are great for school, not so great for being in crowds where people can easily reach in and grab belongings without you noticing. Same goes for back pockets! Stick to front pockets, fanny packs and cross-body bags.

KEEP YOUR MONEY HIDDEN | As nice as it is to have spending money from parents, students need to be reminded not to flash it around. Remind them they’re probably better off depositing that cash and then using either a card or payment apps like Apple. At the very least, be discreet with cash.

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STAY SAFE IN THE HOTEL |

While today’s hotels are quite safe, remind students to lock their doors and windows, use a buddy system when navigating the hotel itself, and if necessary, make use of the room safe.

DON’T FLASH YOUR

PHONE

AROUND | Quite often in big cities, smartphones and tablets are stolen simply by running up, grabbing it out of your outstretched hand and taking off. Remind students not to walk around constantly taking selfies with no attention to their surroundings. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity, especially in big crowds, and remind students that no longer having a phone means they’ll have to rely on group leaders for the rest of the trip.

AVOID PUBLIC WI-FI | Using public Wi-Fi makes you vulnerable to hackers waiting to swipe your data and personal information, even on places you’d think are safe like airlines. If you are going to use public internet, consider setting up a virtual private network (VPN) on your phone.

BE VIGILANT ON THE SUBWAY

| Many students will be new the subway, so be sure to teach them how to safely use it! Keep them away from the platform edges and remind them to keep away from the doors when closing. Also, make sure everyone sticks together and knows the destination, so they can keep an eye out for it. And finally, hold on!

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WHAT IS A DMO/CVB?

HOW TO USE A DMO/CVB WAYS TO WORK WITH A DMO OR CVB

WHAT CAN A DMO/CVB HELP YOU WITH?

DMO s + CVB s

TRIP PLANNING AND DESTINATION

EXPERTS

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SPECIAL SECTION: DMO s + CVB s
Photo © Huntsville CVB

pPlanning student travel poses difficult decisions. Narrowing your options and sorting meal, transportation and lodging logistics could be daunting, not to mention handling COVID safety and restrictions. If a destination is new to you, call in the experts!

A location’s Destination Marketing Organization or Convention Visitors Bureau offers expertise and services to make your trip run smoothly, providing valuable insight on major attractions and hidden gems.

WHAT IS A DMO? WHAT IS A CVB?

DMOs and CVBs are similar and sometimes the same. What differentiates these organizations?

DMOs usually bill themselves local experts, helping visitors enjoy a destination to the fullest. Nonprofit CVBs—generally funded by hotel-stay taxes or membership dues, tend toward a business focus: providing services to help organize conventions and meetings, and securing appropriate permits for business-sponsored events. DMOs, similarly funded, tend to focus on leisure travelers.

CVB names often reflect a destination marketing status, using “Destination,” “Visit,” “Choose” or “Experience.” Larger cities and popular tourism market destinations frequently have a DMO and a CVB, both dependable for expert, unbiased opinions regarding local offerings. For nonbusiness travelers, a DMO may offer more services you seek. Staff usually includes sales representatives, event and support coordinators, and service managers. Through coordinated efforts, they provide myriad services.

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SPECIAL SECTION: DMO s + CVB s
Photo © Tour Kansas

HOW TO USE A DMO/CVB

Most DMO/CVB websites have a specific Group Travel link; many have a Student Travel menu. The website is a great place to begin considering options. Itinerary ideas might include touring sites, arts performances and opportunities, symphony or theater workshops, dining and lodging, and museum, aquarium and theme park sleepover immersion programs.

Websites often include contact information for attractions, hotels, restaurants, transportation and other tourism venues. Some have links to group-friendly options, photo galleries, documents noting facility amenities, complimentary services and event videos.

DMO/CVBs are valuable resources. They’re fully aware of local COVID regulations and their websites feature historical and cultural information and could be used as a portal to learn about the destination and promote the trip. Some have specially produced sales kits with print and digital materials, free, to help you plan and promote.

By phone or online, staff provide planning assistance. Twitter and Facebook accounts may provide daily updates on what’s happening where you’ll visit. E-newsletters help you stay abreast of offerings.

...continued on page 20.

Many DMOs/CVBs have developed free apps, offering comprehensive destination guides or focus on a destination’s theme, with:

SPECIAL SECTION: DMO s + CVB s
CONTACT INFORMATION AND MAPS. • NEARBY POINTS OF INTEREST. EVENTS AROUND THE CITY. • LOCAL DEALS. WEATHER REPORTS. • BUILDABLE “FAVORITES” LIST. 16 TEACH & TRAVEL MAGAZINE | MARCH 2023
Photo © Chattanooga CVB
SYTA.ORG 17 Home to three of the nation’s Founding Fathers, history comes to life in Charlottesville & Albemarle County, Virginia! Learn more about this historic region today at www.visitcharlottesville.org.
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WAYS TO WORK WITH A DMO OR CVB

Many offer free planning assistance and ticket sales packages. Representatives might help negotiate restaurant, hotel, and attraction rates, offering pros and cons. Reps provide logistical support, suggesting lodging near your venue. Expert advice influences efficient itineraries, ensuring students see all they can.

Recommendations: Reps could connect you with properly licensed drivers and reputable businesses and offer tips on public transportation passes and which routes suit your needs.

Questions and concerns: FAQs and online question submissions could help, as could searchable forums for browsing questions and interests. Many DMOs/CVBs offer information center sites throughout major cities, with ambassadors who provide brochures, maps and itinerary guidance.

INTERNATIONAL TOUR BOARDS WORK LIKE CVBS/DMOS— INTERNATIONALLY! TOURISM BOARDS, OFFICIAL ORGANIZATIONS OFTEN FOUND IN MAJOR U.S. CITIES, ENCOURAGE VISITORS TO AN AREA, CITY OR COUNTRY, AND PROVIDE ESSENTIAL INFORMATION.

SPECIAL SECTION: DMO s + CVB s
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TRAVEL
Photos (LtoR) © Branson CVB, Huntsville CVB
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WHAT CAN A DMO/CVB HELP YOU WITH?

SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS: Reps can provide a comprehensive breakdown of local COVID regulations, guidance on how to keep students healthy, keeping valuables safe, and other concerns.

TRANSPORTATION: Whether for public transportation or motorcoaches, a rep’s local knowledge helps you find the best way to move from airport to lodging to venue.

KNOWING THE RULES: What’s allowed on the beach? Is there a curfew? Are masks required at all indoor locations? Reps know local regulations to consider while planning your events or other details students should learn.

TOURS: By bus, foot, Segway, or boat or other means, DMOs/CVBs could assist in mapping out sightseeing. Some offer complimentary neighborhood tours.

ACCESSIBILITY: If someone in your group has a disability, you’ll find information to help accommodate those needs.

FOOD SERVICES: From restaurants to catering options, reps could help meals run like clockwork. If you require boxed lunches delivered to a rehearsal or an early-morning breakfast before departure, reps can match your group with a suitable provider.

SUGGESTED ITINERARIES: With themed plans, take out the guesswork when traveling to a new location. Many suggested itineraries offer flexibility of choice and a rep as your primary contact. If planning your own itinerary, you may appreciate the convenience of purchasing tickets through the DMO/CVB website.

DAY TRIPS: Reps could help identify worthy nearby destinations and efficiently arrange your day, so you don’t crisscross your city.

WHAT’S NEW AND EXCITING: Reps are aware of can’t-miss, must-do opportunities.

SPECIAL SECTION: DMO s + CVB s
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Photos (LtoR) © Philadelphia CVB, Greater Birmingham CVB

WHO TO CONTACT: After providing a suggested itinerary, your rep will note how to best contact each facility.

PERFORMANCE

OPPORTUNITIES: From parades to parks, reps could help identify unforgettable opportunities and provide lists of potential venues for your group.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES: Many DMOs/CVBs assist in creating experiences beyond the show— educational workshops and master classes, facilities tours and meeting theater professionals.

WILDLIFE WARNINGS: Many DMO/CVB websites offer pointers for staying out of trouble with the local fauna.

MAXIMIZE YOUR EXPERIENCE

Working with a SYTA member tour operator and a DMO/CVB ensures you’ll make the most of your trip. It’s the ultimate goal of those promoting their location to ensure you safely enjoy your visit. Working with those who know your destination well could make your trip the experience of a lifetime!

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U.S DESTINATION | PENNSYLVANIA 24

JOURNEY TO AMERICA'S BEGINNINGS IN INDUSTRIOUS PENN SYLV ANIA

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Photos (LtoR) © Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau, Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center, The Ritz Theatre, Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau

tThe first Continental Congress, the gathering place of the nation’s Founding Fathers, the second state admitted to the Union—the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a cornerstone of history in the United States of America.

From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and everywhere in between, Pennsylvania offers up incredibly diverse geography, a unique culture and food scene, and centuries of history to explore.

With so much to see and do, the opportunities across Pennsylvania are too numerous to experience on just one trip, but let’s take a look at a few of the top offerings in the Keystone State.

Naturally, your student group will want to visit Philadelphia, the largest city in the state and the second most-populous on the East coast— home to 67 National Historical Landmarks. Start with sweeping views of the city at One Liberty Observation Deck , the tallest deck around. From 57 stories up, see 360-degree panoramic views of the city, day or night. Visiting students can utilize the Go Find Your Philly Interactive Boards, focusing in on key landmarks and getting even more information on their particular history, architecture, and cultural impact.

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U.S DESTINATION | PENNSYLVANIA
Photos (LtoR) © One Liberty Observation Deck, Steamtown National Historic Site

Back on the ground, at the Penn Museum , students can connect with the cultures of Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Mediterranean through the more than 1 million objects on display from across the globe. Galleries dedicated to Egypt, Greece, Rome, Etruscan Italy, Israel, China and Japan, and the Middle East provide in-depth insight into the past, while a newly added 25,000-pound red granite Sphinx of the Pharaoh Ramses II offers a great photo op upon entering the museum.

Situated mere steps away from Independence Hall—where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed—the National Constitution Center seeks to engage visitors through interactive programs and exhibits that explore the history and relevance of the Constitution and celebrate freedom. Students can get a U.S. history refresher with Freedom Rising, an inspiring 17-minute multimedia theatrical performance, before standing among 42 life-size bronze statues of the Founding Fathers in Signers’ Hall!

Not far away is Philadelphia’s newest museum, the Museum of the American Revolution , which uncovers and shares compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government. An interactive presentation of George Washington’s actual Revolutionary War tent is among the many artifacts that will leave students with a deeper understanding of this period of American history and how it relates today.

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Next, we travel north to Lackawanna County, home to Scranton and full of history, art and science. Head back in time to the Industrial Revolution with the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour. Put on a hardhat, board a mine car and descend 300 feet below the Earth’s surface through an anthracite coal mine originally opened in 1860, as your guide explains the heroic efforts involved as men and boys worked to heat the nation.

All aboard! Step back in time to learn, see and experience how steam-powered engines drove the Industrial Revolution at Steamtown National Historic Site. Students can learn the history of the steam engine, see the giant locomotives that helped expand our nation, and hear the sensational true stories of those that rode, worked for, and built these beautiful machines.

While there, you can also learn how Scranton got the name Electric City—which you may remember from Kevin’s cover band Scrantonicity in The Office—at the Electric Trolley Station & Museum . This attraction commemorates the first successfully operational electric-powered streetcar system in the U.S. Enjoy the interactive exhibits and displays including vintage trolleys, then climb aboard an authentic 1926 or 1932 antique trolley for a 5.5 mile trip over Roaring Brook through the mile-long tunnel and along the original “Laurel Line.”

Lastly, head to The Ritz Theater, the same stage where Harry Houdini performed his famous escape acts, Frank Sinatra soothed audiences with his voice, and Yul Brenner dazzled in “The King & I.”

28 TEACH & TRAVEL MAGAZINE | MARCH 2023 U.S DESTINATION | PENNSYLVANIA

If you want to head west to Pittsburgh, first stop in Gettysburg for the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. The site of a turning point in the Civil War, this museum and memorial is a great opportunity for students to remember the Battle of Gettysburg and stand right where soldiers did during this historic event. A guided battlefield tour, led by a highly-trained Licensed Battlefield Guide, takes students on a journey through a story of conflict, conciliation and remembrance.

Finally, we arrive in Pittsburgh, known as the Steel City. The second-most populous city in Pennsylvania is impressive in many ways, from its 446 bridges to its long history as an early industrial capital. One big highlight here is the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh , a family of four diverse, dynamic museums.

Visit the Carnegie Museum of Art for an impressive array of art pulled from a collection of more than 30,000 works. Exhibitions cover everything from global modern art to the museums large collection. Then, you can head to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History for a day of science and history. Guided tours can cover fossils, minerals, ecosystems and ancient cultures.

At the Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh’s most-visited museum, experience four floors of interactive exhibits exploring the human body, the journey to Mars, Viking artifacts and much more. Last but not least, the Andy Warhol Museum tells the controversial artist’s story and explores his legacy through the largest collection of Warhol art and archives in the world.

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Photos (LtoR) © Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center, Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau, Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center,
NORTHERN AMERICA | ORLANDO 30
Photo © Universal Orlando, Velocicoaster

ENDLESS FUN IN SUNNY ORLANDO

fFilled with sun, fun, STEM and performance opportunities, Orlando is one of America’s top travel destinations.

This hub in central Florida is home to some of the most famous theme parks in the world, including Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort, in addition to fantastic performance venues, museums, indoor fun parks and so much more. There’s even history to be found, especially in the nearby Kissimmee.

So pack the sunscreen and get ready for fun as we dive into everything Orlando has to offer student groups.

First up, let’s head to one of the attractions that made Orlando the destination it is today: Disney World, which is officially wrapping up its 50th Anniversary celebrations this month (March 2023) and heading into a new era. For those who’ve never been, Disney World is built around four themed parks: Magic Kingdom, with classic attractions and the iconic Cinderella Castle; Hollywood Studios, now featuring Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge; EPCOT, featuring attractions from all around the world; and Animal Kingdom, home to real nature alongside Pandora - The World of Avatar.

If you’re familiar, now’s a great time to check out everything new at Disney World. The iconic Splash Mountain has just recently been rethemed to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, and check out the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, a rotating coaster.

Even better for student groups is the newly reimagined Disney Imagination Campus, which offers incredible programs for students to dive into STEAM by designing their own theme park and learning what makes the magic happen behind the scenes. Or try out a performing arts workshop, teaching students to perform, sing and/or act at a high level. The

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park itself also offers multiple opportunities for bands and choirs to perform in front of a live audience.

Another hugely popular attraction nearby is Universal Orlando, which also offers a variety of excellent opportunities with STARS Performance Programs. This includes stage performances, marching performances and performance workshops, such as “Sound Design: Music and the Art of Foley.”

Of course, student groups love the park itself as well, home to three theme parks: Universal Studios, home to thrill rides and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley; Islands of Adventure, with water rides, Jurassic Park and Hogsmeade; and Volcano Bay, an epic water theme park. There’s something for everyone across these parks, especially if you love the magic and fun of cinema. Be sure to check out the newer experiences, including Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Jurassic World VelociCoaster, and The Bourne Stuntacular.

Yet another favorite amusement park nearby is SeaWorld Orlando, which offers not just up-close animal encounters, but thrilling rides and roller coasters. Here, students can experience educational programs that include workshops, hands-on activities, animal encounters, and even sleepovers. Plus, there’s the opportunity to perform in front of park guests with SoundWaves!

Teens will especially love the thrilling rides at SeaWorld, such as the new Ice Breaker, the parks’ first launch coaster that culminates in a reverse launch with a 100-degree angle drop, the steepest in the state. And coming in 2023 is Pipeline: The Surf Coaster, which puts riders in a vertical standing position, as though you’re surfing.

If you’re looking for a smaller day of entertainment,

32 TEACH & TRAVEL MAGAZINE | MARCH 2023 NORTHERN AMERICA | ORLANDO

check out Andretti Indoor Karting & Games. Bowling, laser tag, VR, a full arcade, and a massive go-kart track—this place has tons of options for a full day of fun, including customizable in-house meals.

For a day full of edu-tainment, you’ll want to head to WonderWorks, a museum/amusement park with 28,000 square feet of hands-on learning fun. You’ll find more than 100 exhibits across six Wonder Zones, ranging from the Space Discovery Zone to the Imagination Lab. Science, technology, art—they have it all. It’s the perfect place to encourage students to discover the world and ask questions on their own, all while having fun doing so.

For more educational fun, visit the Museum of Illusions. With over 50 exhibits, this museum offers endless eye-fooling amusement and an opportunity to talk about how what we perceive isn’t always reality. Especially in a world of digital editing and fasttraveling news, it’s important to be able to discern illusion from reality. This museum helps you do just that with interactive exhibits and puzzling games.

If you’re looking for a top-notch place to perform with your band or choir, Steinmetz Hall is the new theater at the prestigious Dr. Phillips Center. This space is one of the world’s most acoustically advanced theaters, having officially achieved an N1 sound rating, the lowest level at which humans can detect sound. The School of the Arts here offers classes, summer programs, master classes, training seminars, school-day performances and educator workshops. Or, bring your group for a cultural experience such as the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra or a touring Broadway play.

If you want to introduce students to the world of interactive theater, go with Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows. These 2.5-hour long experiences include a 45-minute comedy mystery where all the clues are presented, a delicious dinner to ponder what you’ve seen so far, and a chance to ask questions and uncover additional clues after you eat. There are even prizes at the end, so you know your students will be invested.

Want to dive into history while still having that signature Florida fun? Head to Old Town in Kissimmee, just minutes north of Orlando. This recreation of a classic Florida town features historical architecture across 18-acres, with over 70 unique and affordable shops, restaurants, bars, rides and family friendly attractions. Mine for gold at Black Market Minerals, catch

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Photos (LtoR) © Museum of Illusions, WonderWorks, Disney World, Andretti Indoor Karting & Games

a magic show at the Great Magic Hall, and get rid of all that pent-up teen energy at the Xtreme Ninja Challenge.

If you’re planning to perform at any of these lovely places in Orlando, you might also want to consider leaving your dozens of instruments at home and instead renting when you arrive. Band Room Orlando exists specifically to help performance groups avoid the hassle and hazards of traveling with instruments, so talk to them about short-term rentals for the whole band.

Finally, if you’re looking for a place to stay, there are multiple great SYTA member options. Best Western Orlando Gateway Hotel is near the airport and all the big theme parks, and works great with student groups. Holiday Inn Orlando Celebration is welcoming of groups and directly across the street from Old Town and just three miles from Walt Disney World Resort. CoCo Key Hotel and Water Park Resort has nearly 400 rooms to work with, a 54,000-square-foot outdoor water park, an arcade and more.

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Photos © Museum of Illusions, Old Town, Disney World

UNFORGETTABLE ADVENTURES in

iIn the heart of the Caribbean lies Jamaica, a beautiful island country that welcomes visitors with arms wide open.

BEYOND THE SHORELINE: Jamaica

With a rich culture, lush wilderness, delicious food and beautiful beaches, Jamaica is a perfect travel destination for people of all ages, but especially students and youth looking to take a trip with meaningful impact.

Of the many trips I took with my school, youth group and family, my former church’s “Senior Service” trip to Jamaica is at the top of the list. That was in 2008, but I remember how delicious the jerk cuisine was and how incredibly welcoming every single person I met was, down to a local fisherman offering to take us on a special snorkeling expedition far from the all-inclusive resorts. We painted houses, put up buildings and tried to help in other ways I hope were genuinely impactful.

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ITNERNATIONAL | JAMAICA

For students looking to have a similar experience, there is a local immersive travel program that excels in doing just that: Global Service Adventures (GSA). This is a new program from the family behind Jamaica Volunteer Programs, with a particular focus on student and youth.

The story of GSA begins with founder and CEO Maureen Wright-Evans. When she was a child, her mother was a housekeeper and cook who worked in villas and hid Maureen away in the staff quarters while working, for her own protection. Of course, Maureen would escape to wander the beach, and ended up befriending a Canadian couple who wanted to help her.

This couple offered to sponsor her through high school, and after Maureen’s mother passed away when she was 16, the couple offered to assist her through college as well, where she became a teacher. This gift from the couple changed Maureen’s life, and she’s been working to pass it on ever since. Eventually, she decided to take learning outside the classroom, leading to her very own travel business.

That business has since expanded in many ways over the years, including a sports camp which managed to bring Patrick Ewing back to Jamaica as a speaker and has turned into the country’s largest sports camp. That camp also sparked the passion for travel in Maureen’s son, Omar, who now helps Jamaica Volunteer Programs and Global Service Adventures alongside his mother. They’ve also restored a beautiful house that acts as headquarters for the business as well as a place to stay.

Both Omar and Maureen know that Jamaica is an amazing place for student and youth travel, but that knowledge isn’t common just yet. “Our objective is to bring awareness to Jamaica for these experiences, because we’re not known for it and we just want to share this experience with schools, anybody that wants to travel and make a difference,” Omar told Teach & Travel

What the family strives to do is create experiences just like I had in Jamaica years ago: authentic, off-the-beaten-path, and impactful. You won’t be staying inside an all-inclusive resort for a week— Global Service Adventures gives teens immersive experiences, blending community service helping locals, hands-on learning with cultural activities, adventures and sustainability in island nature, sports programs, and new friendships with other youth.

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If you’re heading to Jamaica, Omar and Maureen Wright-Evans are certainly the local experts to help guide the best experience possible, and there’s even more to the story that we don’t have room to get into here. For now, let’s take a look at what your students might experience while on this lovely island.

First up is Kingston , the capital of Jamaica, both officially and culturally. This city on the southeast coast is the hub of reggae music, fashion and the arts, with plenty of history to take in as well. You’ll find the vibrancy of city life here, and it’s also home to the Bob Marley Museum . Located on the site of the legendary musician’s home, this museum was created by his wife Rita and displays his personal treasures, as well as a small theater, a photographic gallery, record shop and gift shop.

Kingston also has the University of the West Indies, a top school that was once part of the Mona Sugar Estate—as well as the historic Devon House, a 19th-century Georgian style home of Jamaica’s first Black millionaire and home of I-Scream, an iconic ice cream shop and household name on the island. Then go on to Half Way Tree, a busy shopping district.

Next, you can head to the northeast coast for Portland , a peaceful area of breath-taking scenery. Visit the Blue Lagoon , a stunning body of water that has its name for good reason. Then head to Boston Beach , a beautiful place for basking, swimming and surfing—also known as the home of jerk!

Then you can head to the Blue Mountains, a rugged and stunning range that gives new views of the island and also produces some of the finest coffee in the world. You can even visit Creighton Estate, a local coffee farm, to try some for yourself and learn how it’s made.

Heading west from Portland, you’ll arrive in Ocho Rios, meaning “many rivers.” This town has grown from a small, sleepy fishing village into a world-class tourist destination and port of call for cruise ships. With its enchanting landmarks, beautiful gardens, and thrilling excursions, the town is the “capital of adventure.” You can head to the Dunn’s River Falls to climb the 600-foot cascading falls in a human chain led by an expert guide, enjoying the thrilling massage of water and relaxing in pools along the way.

Visit the Blue Hole, a hidden gem with a rope swing leading into refreshing waters. Or head to the Spanish Bridge, which also features a rope swing over sparkling blue waters. Looking for a low-key beach instead? Visit Sugar Pot Ruins Beach , and enjoy authentic Jamaican food while you’re at it.

There’s so much more to explore in Jamaica, including the fascinating history of the country’s indigenous people. If you’re interested, contact Global Service Adventures, and see where the island can take you.

38 TEACH & TRAVEL MAGAZINE | MARCH 2023 ITNERNATIONAL | JAMAICA

FOR EDUCATORS WHO PLAN STUDENT TRAVEL THE LEADING SOURCE

teachtravel.org

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tTraveling brings subjects to life, broadens students’ horizons and provides opportunities for students to gain real-world experiences that can’t be taught in a classroom. As educators, we are well-aware that traveling opens minds to different cultures and strengthens students’ knowledge of the world; however, how informed are we about other benefits that student travel experiences provide? What can teachers do on school trips to cultivate students to be accepting of not only themselves, but their peers?

World Strides, a student travel company, created a list of benefits that students gain when they travel. In their list, they highlighted assets above and beyond the most common one, heightening students’ awareness of the world. To me, these other advantages are at the forefront of what educators want for their students. They want students to (1) develop compassion (2) make new friends (3) build confidence (4) gain networking skills (5) see others perspectives (6) develop grit (7) experience growth and independence and (8) explore individuality.

Teachers want youth to be compassionate and appreciate who they are, but more importantly, value

CLIQUE-BUSTING: STUDENTS HELPING EACH OTHER

others. Often, when students travel together, they break into groups, cliques. Often, the cliques were already in place before the journey began. In some instances, the group is composed of a variety of students from various schools who are not familiar with each other. Once the tour begins, groups immediately begin to form. These cliques, people with shared interests, are often not friendly with others.

Educators must be observant and break up these cliques as soon as possible to avoid negative interactions. This can occur by mixing up the students through hotel room assignments, bus seating assignments, assigned meal tables and subdivision of smaller groups. Educators should encourage students to show compassion to members of the student group as well as those they meet along the way. Instead of mocking a fellow student for his mismatched clothing, lack of social skills or loneliness, he should empathize and assist the student. Showing compassion and suffering together teaches both students valuable lessons and helps students break down barriers and open new channels of lifelong friends.

These new relationships—which

may have never been established if the group not been traveling together—develop because of a shared experience. Before you know it, cliques are busted, students are more open with each other and want to offer a helping hand to their new friends, and the journey is memorable in many ways.

Through interactions with group members, tour guides and those they meet on the tour, students learn that instead of relying on their own opinions, they gain perspective and conviction from others. As they experience unique customs and people, they begin to question their own preconceived ideas and become more open-minded towards others. Students start to listen to others and have meaningful conversations. To assist with this process, teachers can pair up students and give them a topic to discuss. The topic can relate to their destination, an incident that occurred on the trip or something personal. Students will get to know other students and increase their networking skills and perspectives of others’ opinions. New groups, not necessarily cliques, will develop due to their shared perspectives.

One of my favorite benefits that traveling teaches others is grit.

40 TEACH & TRAVEL MAGAZINE | MARCH 2023 TRIP BEHAVIOR

Student groups are comprised of introverts, extroverts, and those in between. If a clique forms, there is a variety of personalities among that group. One way for educators to bust up the clique is to divide the students by personality traits (for certain events). I remember a trip to Euro-Park, an amusement park in Germany, where we had 100 Girl Scouts of varying ages and interests. The camp director divided up the girls and leaders by our interest level in activities. Those who liked calm, easy-going activities were in one group. Those, like me, who enjoyed adventure, risk, and a fast-paced day, were divided into another group. The rest of the members fell into the middle group. There were some Girl Scouts who always hung with the

same group of girls at camp, but at the amusement park, they enjoyed hanging out with those of similar interests and personality. Through grit, perseverance, and singlemindedness, all the Girl Scouts were able to achieve success and enjoy their day at the amusement park. This same philosophy can apply to any traveling group. Being away from home, traveling with others who are not family members and being exposed to unique environments, people and situations provides opportunities for the students to learn what they can accomplish for themselves. Through travel, they gain personal growth and independence and their individuality begins to shine They learn that being friendly to all is one

way to gain support and get through life’s obstacles. Many times, they are “forced” to step outside of their comfort zone and figure out things. Bear Grylls, British adventurer, stated, “The thing about a ‘comfort zone’ is that it sounds, well, too comfortable. I call it a comfort pit, because a pit is somewhere you want to get out of as fast as possible.”

Traveling provides many benefits to students, but the most important one is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. Maya Angelou said, “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF SYTA | SYTA.ORG 41

COMING TOGETHER: TRAVEL UNITY SUMMIT

tThis past winter, Travel Unity’s 2022 Northeast Youth Summit took place in historic Auburn, NY, the chosen home of Harriet Tubman.

From December 9-11, the nonprofit hosted 31 high school students from the Auburn public school district to the Carriage House, where four college students led activities and discussions around identity, travel experiences, and travel sector careers. Students met the local DMO, Tour Cayuga, and learned what a DMO does and what locations in the area were being highlighted. Students then created a day trip in the Auburn area and shared their personal experiences in these locations with family and friends.

Travel Unity has been hosting industry summits since 2016, advocating for increased diversity in the world of travel through individual and community empowerment. A couple years ago, they decided to start bringing in students to meet industry professionals at the conference and in the local community, to show teens what opportunities exist for them in the industry.

“Definitely a highlight was having them talk about places within their own area that they have

visited or want to visit, and they had to plan a trip for someone who is coming into town,” said Elijah Washington, youth and collegiate programs director for Travel Unity. “It was so awesome to see all of their different parts working together on something they didn’t even know they had to do, and they presented it so well.”

Once students were comfortable making a local trip, they learned about the opportunity to study abroad in high school and heard about the experience of our teams’ travels abroad around their age. This gave students the feeling that a trip was possible, and they saw and heard from someone who did it with little to no money.

Students then created an international trip, which set them up for their last activity, where students created a company within a travel industry sector. They had to identify a company name, services/ products, and what roles they would be “hiring for.”

The students then presented their companies to their peers, teachers, and travel industry professionals who attended the industry conference for Travel Unity that day.

The college students who led the high school

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EXPERIENCES

programming stayed for the weekend to explore historic Auburn, NY, and network with some industry professionals. They visited The Seward House, the Equal Rights Heritage Center, Harriet Tubman’s Home, and the Gravesite of Harriet Tubman. They connected with a local county legislator Brian Muldrow, met the Executive Director of Tour Cayuga, and even discussed with a local community leader/business owner what they thought the local community needed to bring more diverse tourists.

Travel Unity asked one of the teachers, what were the biggest takeaways for your students? The response was “The project-based learning, presentations, and learning from others’ lived experiences.” Overall, it was a great weekend of dialogue and networking for students.

“We really hope to bring these conversations during 2023,” Washington said. “These spaces have been awesome so far, the three times we’ve done it. Even in smaller classroom spaces where these educators are, there’s opportunities to talk about workforce in the travel industry. We hope to provide more resources in the future for that.”

SYTA.ORG 43 Alabama Tourism Department 14 www.tourism.alabama.gov Charlottesville/Abemarle CVB 17 www.visitcharlottesville.org Colonial Williamsburg Foundation 19 www.colonialwilliamsburg.org Destination Toronto 12 www.destinationtoronto.com Disney Imagination Campus 35 www.disneycampus.com Empire State Building Observatory 3 www.esbnyc.com Greater Merrimack Valley CVB 41 www.merrimackvalley.org Huntsville/Madison County CVB 17 www.huntsville.org Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation 23 www.jyfmuseums.org Lackawanna County CVB 29 www.lackawannacounty.org Landry's Inc. 11 www.rainforestcafe.com www.aquariumrestaurants.com New Orleans & Company 18 www.neworleans.com Philadelphia CVB C2 www.discoverphl.com Pigeon Forge Dept of Tourism 19 www.mypigeonforge.com Rentyl Resorts C3 www.rentylresorts.com Sevierville CVB/Chamber of Commerce 21 www.visitsevierville.com Shear Madness 9 www.shearmadness.com Skydeck 11 www.theskydeck.com TeachTravel.org 39 www.teachtravel.org Tourism Council of Frederick County 7 www.visitfrederick.org Tourism Winnipeg C4 www.winnipeggroups.com Travel Manitoba 23 www.travelmanitoba.com Visit Baltimore 21 www.baltimore.org AD INDEX

STUDENTS SPEAK: LEARNING TO BUILD A WORLD BEYOND WAR

tToday, travel is more important than ever.

After two years of widespread global isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing crises such as climate change, war, and the struggle to protect human rights, travel can open our eyes and give us new perspectives on how we make sense of the world.

When I was seven years old, my parents took me to Sakhalin Island located in the Russian Far East, just north of Japan to visit family friends. Our Russian friends have visited us in Hawaii many times. They have a son named Luca who is a year and a half younger than me. Luca and I have celebrated birthdays together in Hawaii and when I visited Sakhalin, I went to school with him and got a small taste of Russian life.

We enjoyed playing together and talking about the video games that we both liked. In Sakhalin, we visited a dacha (Russian country cottage) and played chess. In Hawaii, we bodyboarded and ate shave ice together. This is the type of Russian-American relationships that can be created through travel. If I had not traveled to Russia and Luca had not traveled to Hawaii, we would not be friends and might have very different ideas about each other’s country.

Now the situation is very different. Russia’s attack on Ukraine has made it an international pariah. Many people see Russia as a bad country and want to punish it. My experiences traveling and knowing people there has taught me it is important to distinguish between world politics and ordinary people.

The relationship I have described is just one example

of why travel is so important. Humanity faces numerous urgent challenges. With so many serious environmental, economic, and global health problems, we need to come together and cooperate. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s really true; we have so much more that connects us than separates us. Being raised in a bilingual and multicultural household has shaped my identity. My mother is from Japan and my father is Jewish. Studying 20th century history has shown me what can happen when people fail to recognize other people’s humanity.

Growing up in Hawaii has taught me that there are many ways of thinking, living, and communicating. Hawaii has a diverse population of people from across the Pacific and around the world. Each year, millions of people travel to Hawaii for vacation and to have fun, but I wonder if they recognize that Hawaii is a place where they can learn about the different people, different cultures, and how to live together. I am happy to have grown up in Hawaii and enjoy living here, but I’ve decided to go to college in another state in order to be exposed to different people and new ideas.

Living in Hawaii and traveling to far away places has taught me that diversity among people, as in nature, is a good thing because it provides greater flexibility in overcoming challenges. The next time I travel will be a journey of education and the destination will be my future.

STUDENTS SPEAK
Kailash Letman, 17, is in the 12th grade at Kauai High School in Lihue, Hawaii.
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