Teach & Travel May 2024

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MAY 2024 v24i5 | Published by Serendipity Media, LLC SY TA STUDENT & YOUTH TRAVEL ASSOCIATION
SYTA.ORG 1 IN THIS ISSUE VOLUME 24 ISSUE 5 MAY 2024 FEATURES TOP STUDENT DESTINATIONS 2024 16 EMERGING 20 UNITED STATES 30 NORTH AMERICA 38 INTERNATIONAL DEPARTMENTS 8 STAYING EDUCATED AI In The Classroom 10 PROFILE Aaron Warren: Making Travel Happen, Together 12 SAFE TRAVELS Capturing Memories Forever, Safely 44 TRIP BEHAVIOR Overcoming Language Barriers 46 EXPERIENCES Exploring Every Side of a Legacy at Mount Vernon 48 STUDENTS SPEAK Lifting Each Other Up NEWS + UPDATES 2 SYTA PRESIDENT'S LETTER 4 TRAVEL NEWS 6 DESTINATION UPDATES THE COVER Top Student Travel Destinations 2024 PUBLISHER OF TEACH & TRAVEL SERENDIPITY MEDIA, LLC www.serendipity-media.com | (866) 252-7108 THE TEAM KASIE SMITH, President & Publisher COURTNEY VAN HAGEN, Art Director EMILY ALSPAUGH, Graphic Designer JOSH VEAL, Editorial Manager LOREN EISENLOHR, Marketing Director KELSEY SHOEMAKER, Marketing Cordinator NIKKI TRAMPER, Marketing Cordinator MEGAN MARSHALL, Accounting & Operations Specialist MAGGIE MUTCH, Office Coordinator YOUR MEDIA CONSULTANTS (866) 252-7108 KARY MOENING, kary@serendipity-media.com x109 HALEIGH GERWIG, haleigh@serendipity-media.com | x117 MEMBERS OF: AMERICAN BUS ASSOCIATION CIRCLE MICHIGAN NATIONAL TRAVEL ASSOCIATION ONTARIO MOTOR COACH ASSOCIATION STUDENT & YOUTH TRAVEL ASSOCIATION SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION Teach & Travel – The Official Publication of SYTA may be obtained by filling out the subscription card or calling 866-252-7108. Subscribe online at https://syta.org/ enews-subscribe/. Teach & Travel – The Official Publication of SYTA is published bimonthly by Serendipity Media, LLC; 535 Cascade West Parkway SE; Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Subscription information may be obtained through the above address, by calling 866-252-7108, or by logging on to www.syta.org. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Teach & Travel c/o Serendipity Media, LLC; 535 Cascade West Parkway SE; Grand Rapids, MI 49546. All rights reserved. Teach & Travel - The Official Publication of SYTA content may not be photocopied or reproduced or redistributed without the consent of the publisher. © 2024 Serendipity Media, LLC


sSummer is around the corner, and more groups of young people will be out and about. From my own experience, there is nothing like finishing the school year with a trip organized by teachers. Those trips are even better with the assistance of and enhancement from one or more SYTA member organizations, right? The full equation: students plus teachers plus parents plus SYTA operators, attractions, hotels, transportations, and other partners. We all make it happen.

In this final Teach & Travel issue of the 2023-24 school year, we take our annual look at the Top Destinations to Watch in 2024. From the United States to the entirety of North America and beyond, these are the cities, regions, and countries that SYTA member operators have seen experience the most interest recently. It is a fantastic way to learn about which destinations are not just welcoming visitors but creating a top-notch student group travel experience. You will also find tips and resources covering modern issues like how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used effectively in the classroom and while traveling. The story also covers concerns with this emerging technology.

There are other interesting articles. This issue reports on the importance of documenting trips, but doing so safely and thoughtfully, whether it is with cameras or journals. Writer and educator Julie Beck dives into navigating potential language barriers . There are always opportunities for students, despite the language they speak, to be touched by the power of student travel worldwide.

As always, we also hear the story of two fascinating travel experiences from educators who have had recent fascinating trips, despite all the hardships that threatened to get in the way. It is always inspiring and heartwarming to hear how important student travel is to these resolute teachers and their students.

With a bittersweet feeling, this is my final magazine message as president of the Student and Youth Travel Association (SYTA). It has been a real pleasure for me to introduce each Teach and Travel publication. From my office in Puerto Rico, I say “¡Hasta muy pronto!“ I hope to see you all at our SYTA annual conference in New York from August 9-13. We are excited to put together another exceptional and unique event for the entire student travel community.




SYTA and our research partner, BONARD, have been actively engaged in monitoring the global student group travel market since 2014. We introduced the quarterly Student Travel Business Barometer in 2019 to equip our stakeholders with timely, relevant and reliable data on the industry’s performance.

The 5th annual edition of the Student Travel Business Barometer, the only annual quantitative data resource of its kind for domestic and international student group travel, will be available in Spring 2024.

The Business Barometer includes trend data for previous years and provides forecast data on the coming year. The 2023 Business Barometer also provides analysis of trends and industry growth from 2019 through 2023—including the impact of COVID-19 on student group travel and anticipated vs. actual student travel numbers. Preliminary data showed not just recovery in the youth group travel sector, but increased booking over 2019.

Survey respondents include both international and domestic tour operators. As of 2022, we are proud to partner with the American Bus Association (ABA) and NTA to significantly expand our database in the U.S. We will continue to work with our international partners to provide global insights and data.

To view the study, visit syta.org/student-travel-research.



There’s plenty new to explore in New Orleans. The newly built Liberation Pavilion at the National World War II Museum is a three-story building exploring the closing months of the war and following years, with an explanation of links to our lives today. The museum also recently introduced Expression of America, a sound and light experience celebrating the power of individual Americans to impact the world around them during monumental conflict, with written words, songs and personal reflections from the everyday people who served in our country during WWII. Check out the cultural funhouse, Jamnola, designed by local artists for a topsy-turvy stroll of learning and entertainment. Opened just a few years ago, the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience explores the many ways that Jews influences and were influenced by the distinct cultural heritage of the American South. Get a new perspective of NOLA at Vue Orleans, the city’s only 360 degree observatory, offering stunning views in every direction—with interactive exhibits. For complimentary group assistance, contact the tourism department at neworleans.com.


Few cities put groups in the center of a country’s founding history like Philadelphia, from walking in the footsteps of our Founding Fathers in Independence Hall to exploring the galleries of the National Constitution Center. Check out the “History, Highlights, & Revolution Walking Tour,” which takes groups to all of the quintessential historic sites in the city. For more history and a little mystery, join “The Great Philadelphia Comedy Magic Walk”

and explore eight historic and offbeat locations while participating in magic tricks along the way. The next few years are shaping up to be very exciting for Philadelphia. The Franklin Institute recently unveiled its new “Wondrous Space” exhibit. This is just the start as the museum prepares to celebrate its 200th anniversary this year with five additional new exhibits. For history-loving groups, the National Constitution Center opened its newest gallery on “The First Amendment.” All this activity

leads up to a variety of citywide celebrations in 2026 for America’s Semiquincentennial. Start building your Philadelphia tour package today at discoverPHL.com.


Did you know? On June 6, 2024, the world will commemorate the momentous 80th anniversary of D-Day, an epoch-making event that forever altered the course of history. Amid the tapestry of significant sites that contributed to the momentous Allied victory, Savannah’s esteemed

Photo © Jen Amato/NewOrleans.com

Military Heritage Trail stands out as a beacon of valor, resilience, and strategic prowess, having played a pivotal role in the grand narrative of World War II. Meanwhile, nature enthusiasts will be thrilled to learn that Tybee Island is a natural breeding ground for the magnificent Bottlenose Dolphins, making it a haven for marine life along the East Coast. One of the most aweinspiring ways to experience these majestic creatures is through a tour, where you can intimately witness their playful leaps and graceful swims. Tybee Island also boasts a captivating Black History Trail, inviting visitors to delve into the rich cultural heritage and resilience of the African American community on the island. For those seeking an immersive chronological experience, Historical Tours of Tybee offers guided excursions that bring the island’s fascinating past to life. Plan your trip with visitsavannah.com.


Nestled between New York City and Philadelphia, New Jersey is sometimes overshadowed by its big city neighbors. Huge mistake! As home to Edison, Einstein and Princeton University, this little state delivers a lotta wow for student groups – one more brilliant than the next. Explore 1,034+ attractions, such as the Adventure Aquarium, where you can cross a rope bridge high above a shark tank. Apply the laws of physics to the thrill rides at Six Flags Great Adventure. Grow STEM smarts at Liberty Science Center. And learn that geology rocks at The Sterling Hill Mining Museum.

Or you can visit 463+ historical landmarks. Dive into New Jersey’s maritime heritage at Tuckerton Seaport. And knock one out of the park at Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center –where history, culture and science are showcased within the context of sports. Consider 418+ cultural experiences. Masterworks loom large under wide-

open skies at Grounds for Sculpture, while students gain perfect clarity on the glassmaking process at The Museum of American Glass. Whether you want to inspire future scientists, bring history to life or encourage budding artists, this is the time to arrange your student tour. For expert assistance, head to visitnj.org/travel-agent-and-tourgroups-resources.


Exciting things are happening in Virginia Beach. The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center’s newly renovated South Building now features new animals and galleries, interactive exhibits and play areas, observation windows into staff work spaces and more. Plus, behind-the-scenes tours dive into the “life support” of the aquarium, and visitors can get closer to animals like sea turtles, sharks, rays and Komodo dragons. Also along the coast is the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, which offers free group tours for students to foster close observation, critical thinking and rich discussions. Or, head north from the aquarium to Cape Henry Lighthouse, the first federally funded public works project of the newly formed government. It was authorized by George Washington and overseen by Alexander Hamilton, and today offers some of the best aerial views of Virginia Beach from the top of its 191 steps. Learn more at visitvirginiabeach.com.

Photo © Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau


aArtificial intelligence and machine learning have rapidly become a pressing matter in academia.

There are quite a few concerns over plagiarism and shortcuts with the rise of ChatGPT, and understandably so. However, we also have seen AI used for good in the classroom, and exploring this technology with students is a better way to address any challenges than a policy of total prohibition.

Recently, the Van Andel Education Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan has been diving deep into how ChatGPT and AI can be used to enhance your instruction, make your life easier, and unlock your students’ full potential. Here are just a few key points we’ve gathered.


Artificial Intelligence tools are just that: Tools. They can help you write in ways you otherwise couldn’t, and they can do it quickly and easily. Some of the most incredibly powerful, versatile AI tools are text generators like ChatGPT and Bard, which generate text in response to prompts. However, these tools can also make mistakes, as they’re not actually “intelligent.”


There are tools out there that are supposed to detect when papers are AI written, but these tools make mistakes constantly, giving false positives and negatives, largely because many phrases are common in academia. If you actually want students to develop a specific thinking skill and their own writing voice, such as writing a fiveparagraph essay, you can have them do it by hand in class! If you want students to be able to explain their reasoning, you can have them do it in conversation, unassisted by technology! In other words, you can subvert misusage by focusing on in-person tasks.


Collaborate with AI: Let your students use ChatGPT as a brilliant collaborator. They can brainstorm ideas together, get suggestions for revisions on their work, or overcome obstacles they’re encountering.

Let Them Lead: You don’t have to do all the work when it comes to creating excellent uses for AI in your classroom. Students can exercise flexible thinking as they explore how to use AI to level up their own learning—and they’ll take ownership of the process as they do.

Model, Model, Model: Students learn from seeing examples — and ChatGPT can give you a plethora of them! Whatever concept you’re exploring, have ChatGPT generate examples for your students to examine. You can have them notice shortcomings and work to provide improvements. One idea is to create “B+ Exemplars” — examples that show lots of great features, but allow students to make additional improvements.

Beat ChatGPT: For the rest of their lives, students will be asked to add value above and beyond what AI tools come up with, so this game is incredibly relevant. The concept is simple: give ChatGPT a prompt you want your students to be able to respond to, see what it comes up with, and use that as a model for your students to shoot for. They can analyze what it did well and where it can be improved, and work to create a response that improves upon the computer’s.

The best way to learn how to use AI is to open it up, play around, and be creative! And the more you do so, the better you’ll be able to spot what ChatGPT sounds like (it has a distinct voice). AI is neither an enemy nor a friend— it’s a tool for you, with your own intelligence, to use.




aAs principal of Island City Academy, Aaron Warren helps lead the charge for student travel.

The small K-8 charter school in Eaton Rapids, Michigan is part of a tight-knit community, where families show up and show out consistently for travel and education, in everything from fundraising to transporting students to class each day (the school has no busses).

Every year, the 8th graders have taken some sort of educational trip, and more recently, the 7th grade class has joined in too—all with the help of SYTA member Educational Tours, Inc. Over his 10 or so years at the school, Warren has seen the approach to travel shift somewhat, but the value of it has remained the same.

We talked with this passionate principal about his school’s experience with student travel and what he’s learned from it all.


When I first started, our middle school was a lot smaller, and it was usually five or six kids and we would fly to somewhere. We’d let the kids basically help pick the destination, fundraise and cover the whole cost. We went to Boston a couple of times, but we’ve really felt like Washington, DC makes the most sense. It fits with our curriculum and fits where we’re at in eighth grade, and we’ve really, really enjoyed it. It’s fun to see the monuments, to see how they react. For a lot of our kids, they’re not going to go to

DC otherwise. A lot of them have never left the state, so it’s going somewhere with some historical value.

I think the big thing too when we do these trips, there’s a lot to be said about having a tour guide that’s walking you through all the monuments and explaining everything. It’s just a whole ‘nother level. It adds so much depth to what you see. When we do a monument walking tour with a historian and a tour guide, and they’re telling you about everything in the city, that’s so rewarding and refreshing for the students to hear and understand. I can just imagine students, going back when their parents take a trip to DC, like, “Hey, I know what this is. Let me tell you about it.” I think there’s something to be said for that.



We’re going to Chicago mid-May. We’ve never done this before, but we wanted to try something different this year. We used to do eighth grade only, but then what happens is we have at most 24 kids, usually closer to 18 or 19, and then there’s a half empty bus, which is the biggest cost. We decided to go seventh and eighth grade together, which is still not a full bus, but we’re closer, and it keeps our costs down. Bigger schools pay less because they get two or three buses full, so it helped us. Seventh and eighth graders are close enough in age and they’re both able to go and have a good time. We’ve really enjoyed that.


The two big things that they’re looking forward to going to are the Shedd Aquarium and the Natural Science and History Museum. Those are the big ones. Those are kind of the reasons for going. Our science teacher used to live in Chicago and wanted to do it, so she’s the one that really pushed us to. And then we’re going over to the Navy Pier, and the kids are excited about that. Lots of good stuff going on!


I think the big thing is, we talk

about all these places, right? Like for me, the first time I went to Boston, I saw Plymouth Rock, and it’s not this big rock. You know, we talk in class about the Declaration of Independence and history, we talk about Washington, we talk about Congress and the Capitol, so it’s being able to go in and have the kids actually see the things they’ve talked about. You go into the National History Museum and you can see the flag that was flown when they wrote the Star Spangled Banner. You can go see the national Declaration Of Independence as it was written. I mean, there’s these things that we talk about, but so many of our students don’t ever have those opportunities to see it. And with us and our numbers, most of our students fundraise most of it.


We do a couple things. We’re a small middle school, but we have boys and girls basketball and volleyball. We let the kids do concessions in that. It used to be we would have parents donate the concession goods and any money raised, they would keep, but instead now we just pay the kids an hourly rate—come in and work, get paid for that. We do pizza fundraisers every Friday, where kids can buy a slice of pizza for $2, and we make

the kids help distribute it. They run the station. That money goes right to the kids for the travel account. We just divide it up for each student. They only get to volunteer and help with that if they’re doing what they’re supposed to in the classroom. So, there’s a tie-in to the academic piece of it. We do a lot of different like, flower sales, Butter Braids, just different standard mail at home fundraisers!


What I would tell anybody that’s going to do it is you will be shocked at how well-behaved your kids are when you get out of your building. I think that’s a big hang-up for people, saying, “Oh my God, these kids are out of control. They’re not doing this.” But I wish I could take the kids that I have when I go to DC and put them back in my building every day. It’s amazing how they can show out and really show you how good they are and how respectful they can be, and I’m always blown away by how well they do. It’s just amazing the experience these kids can have, and I would encourage everybody to do it.



mMemories are fickle and a whole lot happens when you’re on a trip, so documenting it all is an important part of travel.

This used to involve disposable cameras and maybe a journal. Nowadays, students all have phones that allow them to document trips in much greater detail, from photos to videos to geotags and group texts. The plus side is that this makes documenting the trip much easier. The down side is that technology can be a major distraction.

So, here are some key points to keep in mind when you’re talking to students about how to use phones, journals and other tools to capture their memories forever, with safety in mind.


You might think it’s best for students to be tech-free during all experiences, but for many of them, being able to take pictures and record video is an essential part of how they process things. Remember, at this point, they’ve all grown up with this technology and are attached to it. What better way to make and capture memories than with photos and video?


The best thing about all this technology is that we can very easily share what we’ve captured with each other. Create a group album for students to upload their photos and videos too, some of which can then be shared with parents back home so they can see how the trip is going. Or, better yet, consider an app like PhotoVision’s Group Travel Videos, which offers a platform for private photo sharing, document sharing, messaging, and traveler tracking—with the ability to create a keepsake video from the shared photos.


Follow-up projects, such as scrapbooks, journals, writing an article for the local paper, or giving a presentation can help give students a greater stake in staying focused. While photos and videos will capture certain aspects of special moments, actually writing out what you did each day and how you felt about it gives a much better idea of what the trip was like while you were on it. They may not realize it now, but students will cherish these memories for the rest of their lives! Strongly encourage them to document their days.



If students are mostly allowed to use their phones, they should be able to handle moments without them. Consider tech-free times during particularly important moments, such as at bedtime, when addressing the group with plans, or when experiencing a reverent cultural practice. Remember to strike a balance between documenting the trip and being present in the moment. Let students take pictures of a beautiful scenic view, but maybe take a quick beat to have everyone put the phones away and soak in the sights, sounds and sensations around you. If needed, have chaperones collect and hold onto phones temporarily, to avoid any temptation.


» There are times when it’s not okay to take a selfie, due to both respect and safety. Instead of waiting until it happens and having to scold a student, set some ground rules ahead of time. No selfies:

» At memorials honoring the dead.

» When something bad is happening.

» With locals your students don’t know.

» In bustling areas where the phone can easily be snatched away.

» On the move (while walking or biking).

» On the edge (cliffs and balcony railings).

Ultimately, documenting your trip is more than just snapping photos or jotting down notes – it’s a meaningful practice that enriches your travel experience, preserves cherished memories, and fosters connections with others.




New Orleans teems with rich culture, one-of-a-kind stories and celebrations coveted worldwide. Students are afforded the opportunity to learn about the French Quarter on foot, the beauty of the natural world on dry land and underwater, and in-depth World War II history. Whether you’re seeking exposure to world-class jazz and musical heritage or a chance to perform alongside some of the world’s most renowned musical artists, students are sure to leave feeling inspired.


Cleveland rocks—it’s true! Students can explore the power and science behind rock music as they admire priceless memorabilia, before taking a trolley tour that covers more than 20 miles. Theaters where famous actors got their start offer elevated exposure to the professional arts. You could even learn about Tatoo! (Not that tattoo.) Travel back in time with museums featuring everything from diamonds to dinosaurs. Some serious rollercoaster and other ride fun happens nearby.



Here, you’ll find a stunning skyline (clearly visible from 360 Chicago Observation Deck), iconic landmarks like the Willis Tower and Millennium Park, and world-class museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry. Students can explore the city’s rich history through visits to historic neighborhoods, or delve into the legacy of the Chicago blues and jazz scenes in iconic venues. Nature is readily available in this urban center thanks to the legendary Field Museum of Natural History and Shedd Aquarium, situated right on the waters of Lake Michigan.


Student travel to Baltimore offers students a rich tapestry of history, culture and innovation along the scenic shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Known as “Charm City,” Baltimore has historic neighborhoods like Fells Point, where cobblestone streets and elegant architecture harken back to centuries gone by. Cultural institutions such as the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum showcase a diverse range of artistic masterpieces, while the National Aquarium provides an immersive look into marine life and conservation efforts. Students can also explore Baltimore’s role in American history at Fort McHenry, the birthplace of the Star-Spangled Banner, or by visiting the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park, which celebrates the contributions of African Americans to the maritime industry.


Students can explore the bustling streets of cities like Newark and Jersey City, immersing themselves in the rich tapestry of multicultural communities, dynamic arts scenes, and innovative industries. Iconic landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island offer insights into America’s immigrant history and the country’s ideals of liberty and opportunity. Students can also delve into the state’s cultural heritage at institutions like the Newark Museum and the Grounds for Sculpture, which showcase diverse art collections and immersive exhibitions. Enjoy a day of thrills at Six Flags Great Adventure, sample fresh seafood along the Jersey Shore, or explore the natural wonders of the Delaware Water Gap.

to three of the nation’s Founding Fathers, history comes to life in Charlottesville & Albemarle County, Virginia!
more about this historic region today at www.visitcharlottesville.org.



Atlanta is a city boasting countless must-see attractions and learning opportunities, offering the best of urban life and thousands of acres of serene nature. There are plenty of chances for students to learn about the civil rights movement and AfricanAmerican culture, explore Midtown museums, visit the apartment where an iconic book was written, check out Georgia’s only 4D theater, be immersed in professional and college sports, and more.



Grounded in Colonial history and full of cutting-edge innovation, America’s Walking City is full of personality and options for taking in its burgeoning arts scene. Students can get up close with nature at the New England Aquarium, cruise on the Boston Harbor before learning about the Wampanoag People and the Colonial English community of the 1600s, the American Revolution—right where it was born—and more. Be sure to experience championship sport teams, world-class ballet and a show where students become part of the cast.



Central Florida boasts a vibrant blend of thrilling attractions, natural wonders and educational opportunities. From the iconic theme parks and education/performance programs of parks like Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando, to the captivating ecosystems and biodiversity of the Everglades and the educational exhibits of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, students can immerse themselves in a myriad of experiences that blend entertainment with enrichment. Not to mention insights into space exploration at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

With iconic cities like Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, students can immerse themselves in vibrant music scenes, explore renowned museums such as the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and delve into the state’s rich history at landmarks like The Alamo. Beyond urban adventures, Texas offers vast expanses of breathtaking landscapes, from the rugged beauty of Big Bend National Park to the pristine shores of the Gulf Coast. Learn about the state’s cowboy heritage at a working ranch, study marine life at the Texas State Aquarium, or step into a time machine at the Fort Bend Museum to experience life in colonial 1820s Austin.

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A multicultural haven, California is more than sunny skies and palm trees. In Los Angeles and Hollywood, explore incredible zoos before heading to a museum dedicated to the biggest names in popular music—the movie industry comes alive through behindthe-scenes tours, and you’ll find abundant theme park rides and performance opportunities. In San Diego, delve deep into nature with Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and more! Of course, the beaches don’t hurt either.


For history enthusiasts, Pennsylvania can’t be beat. Philadelphia offers iconic landmarks such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, providing insight into America’s founding principles, while institutions like the Franklin Institute foster scientific curiosity and discovery. Or visit the four Carnegie Museums to learn about art, natural history and science. Gettysburg is filled to the gills with American history going back to 1736, from interactive museums and handson demonstrations to civilian stories, unique battlefield tours, agricultural experiences and a multitude of group-friendly dining options. See where Lincoln gave his famous address four months after a decisive battle turned the tides of the war.


From the vibrant streets of Nashville, the capital of country music, to the historic districts of Memphis, the birthplace of blues, souls and rock ‘n’ roll— students can immerse themselves in the rhythm and soul of Tennessee’s musical legacy. Nashville didn’t get its Music City nickname for nothing! Museums explore the history of country music and its most influential names, while well-known venues provide opportunities for performance and backstage tours. You can also visit historic mansions and plantations to learn about, and from, the past.



New York, New York is known as the Center of the Universe for good reason. The biggest city in the U.S. is densely packed with endless cultural experiences and history. Throughout the city’s five boroughs, students can find some of the most recognized monuments in the world; gaze upon iconic skylines from tens of stories above the ground; peruse worldclass museums dedicated to art, oddities, and celebrities; and take in the sights. Memories are easy to make throughout the city, often favored for Broadway shows and their corresponding behind-thescenes tours and workshops.



The incredibly walkable U.S. capital city has a thriving arts and theater scene. Various museums and monuments offer students an avenue to delve further into the importance of the First Amendment, journalism, government and more. They could also take advantage of many wellknown and respected free attractions as they gain deeper understanding of the nation’s history. Don’t forget to check out some of the nearby professional sports games while you’re there!

Once the capital of Virginia Colony, Williamsburg played a significant role in the American Revolution and remains one of the most important historical sites in the country. At its heart is Colonial Williamsburg, a highly immersive district and living-history museum featuring actors depicting 18th-century life and culture. Meanwhile, cultural hubs like Richmond offer dynamic arts scenes and culinary delights, while the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts inspires creativity and critical thinking.




With its vast glaciers, towering icebergs, and rugged Arctic landscapes, Greenland captivates. Students can embark on expeditions to witness the stunning natural phenomena of the Northern Lights and the midnight sun, gaining insights into the region’s fragile ecosystem and the impacts of climate change. Greenlandic communities welcome students to immerse themselves in their traditional way of life, sharing stories, music, and cuisine rooted in centuries of Arctic heritage. Exploring historic settlements like Nuuk and Ilulissat, students can learn about the history of Inuit peoples and the early European explorers who ventured into this icy wilderness.



Students can have an authentic Niagara Falls experience by taking in the famous falls that share the city’s name on a cruise or by stunning tower views—520 feet in the air! Historic sites along the Niagara Parkway give way to scenes from some of the most famous turning points in Canadian history. Museums brimming with oddities and waterparks filled with splashy fun make Niagara Falls, unsurprisingly, a popular choice for students and teachers.


With an easy-to-navigate subway system and walkable attractions, students can do it all in Québec’s largest city—where European charm meets North American attitude—whether holding creepy-crawlers, ice skating year-round, taking part in an immersive planetarium experience, or exploring the archaeology and history of Montréal’s first inhabitants. Don’t miss one of the world’s largest botanic gardens, or admiring the first “connected” bridge in the world.


An island full of true adventure, Puerto Rico offers students a chance to enjoy the unmatched beauty only found in the Caribbean. Whether ziplining through the rainforest, letting their imaginations run wild while exploring centuries-old castles, discovering pristine beaches and majestic mountains, or immersing themselves in new cultures, traditions, and the rich island cuisine, students will ask when they can return— before they even leave. Puerto Rico is truly a treasure worth discovering.

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Situated along the Saint Lawrence River, the mostly French-speaking and truly European-feeling Québec City is a UNESCO World Heritage site, filled with picturesque architecture. Take in North America’s oldest streets while enjoying locally led tours—on foot, bus, bike, boat or horse-drawn carriage—and spending a quiet moment inside the oldest pilgrimage site north of Mexico. An interactive museum sheds new light on diverse societies while Eastern Canada’s largest theme park provides exhilarating thrills.


Canada’s capital city offers ample opportunity to learn about government, amid the Victorian architecture of Parliament Hill and beyond. Museums feature renowned collections of indigenous and Canadian art and more; elsewhere are waterpark adventures, hands-on fun with science and technology, lessons in aviation and space, and experiences with food and agriculture. Take in the beauty of the Ottawa River between education-filled excursions. In the coldest months, skate on the world’s largest naturally frozen ice rink!


This diverse and dynamic metropolis situated along Lake Ontario’s northwestern shore is one of Canada’s premier arts and entertainment, business, sports, and innovation destinations—an ideal place for students to get a little taste of everything. Despite being in the big city, students could enjoy their fair share of green spaces. From hundreds of acres of trails, beautiful beaches, and trekking though the treetops to a short ferry ride offering students a chance to explore nearby islands, Toronto maintains a sense of natural beauty among its iconic skyscrapers.



Nestled between the mountains and inlets of sparkling water, Vancouver is a bustling seaport city with a thriving art, music and theater scene. Students could take in breathtaking views on suspension bridges above the forest; discover science, art, and flora and fauna at museums and galleries; and visit local markets and more. Opportunities to learn about British Columbia’s indigenous First Nations, Inuit and Métis people give students background in rich traditions.


This large peninsula branching off of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala also separates the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, making it a confluence of international culture. Students can be awed by the tropical rainforests and jungles, snorkel with sea turtles and whale sharks, and swim in cenotes. This is also the home of ancient Mayan culture and archeological sites, with so much to see and learn, including the famous Chichén Itzá, a large city featuring the Temple of Kukulcan.


Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, offers plenty of performing arts opportunities in a vibrant urban landscape. Explore the Exchange District, known for its art galleries and well-preserved 20th-century architecture, before getting up close with polar bears and rare animals. A museum dedicated to celebrating human rights activists and events offer students a deeper understanding of the world.

Beyond the city limits, Manitoba’s natural beauty unfolds with sprawling prairies, pristine lakes and boreal forests. Students can witness the annual migration of beluga whales in Churchill, explore the ancient rock formations of Riding Mountain National Park, or connect with Indigenous cultures through authentic experiences like traditional drumming and storytelling.




As the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam’s picturesque canals, iconic architecture, and world-class museums captivate. Exploring the historic center, students can wander along cobblestone streets lined with charming cafes, boutiques, and tulip markets. Cultural landmarks such as the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum (dedicated to Dutch arts and history), and the Anne Frank House provide insight into the Netherlands’ rich artistic and historical heritage. Beyond the city’s cultural treasures, students can engage with progressive initiatives in sustainability, urban planning, and social justice—while biking along the canals, sampling Dutch delicacies at local markets, or attending performances at the city’s renowned concert halls and theaters.



Trek “Down Under” to Australia, a country teeming with breathtaking natural sights and wildlife. It’s here students could see democracy in action in the capital city of Canberra, step behind the curtain and take in world-class performances inside a highly-recognizable white-roofed building in New South Wales, snorkel along one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World in Cairns, and hear from Indigenous storytellers in Adelaide. Despite the devastating bushfires a few years ago, they want you to know “There’s still nothing like Australia.”


Bordered by the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica teems with biodiversity and is an ecotourism hub. Opportunities to immerse students in the local culture are plenty, with artisan crafted goods, markets, and distinguished expressions of music, theater, and art close by. Students could get an adventure fix with activities such as whitewater rafting, kayaking, horseback riding, surfing, snorkeling, birdwatching and more. ¡Pura vida!


A cultural powerhouse, France is the place for students to tour exceptional sites rooted in history while taking in beautiful sights renowned throughout the world. Dance and theater performances abound beside grandiose cathedrals and celebrated cuisine, while essential war landmarks and locations enthrall history enthusiasts. A particularly recognizable tower—the most visited monument in the world— offers sweeping views of Paris, from 906 feet up!



Whether seeing historic castles and cathedrals and a museum dedicated to Irish heritage in Dublin or catching a Donegal Bay wave, you won’t need luck to truly take in all Ireland has to offer. Aspiring performers will delight in film and music festivals and opera performances. Students with a passion for golf will love teeing off at world-renowned Royal Portrush—but not before visiting a famous set of cliffs, named a UNESCO Global Geopark.


Museums inspire imagination and offer a wide range of subject matter. Soak up cultural epochs in Berlin, admire old and modern art in Frankfurt, and delve into science and technology in Munich. Through 16 national parks and 15 UNESCO biosphere reserves, Germany’s natural beauty is a hiker’s paradise, waiting to be tapped. Learn a history lesson at the site of the Berlin Wall, the most visible manifestation of Cold War mentality that existed after World War II.


Home to more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other country, Italy is a vision of history, art and culture. Museums, historical cities, libraries and archaeological sites abound—along with performance opportunities in once-in-alifetime venues. Students will be in awe of world-renowned sculptures and paintings, created by some of art’s most recognizable names, in addition to taking in outdoor attractions and wildlife exploration. A sinking city and a leaning tower await!



Incredible rock formations, unique islands and active volcanoes are just the beginning! A dose of adventure is never far away, with caving, jet boating, canyoning and whale watching available year-round. Enjoy a wealth of performing arts, literature, museums and art galleries before learning about New Zealand’s Maori culture— an integral part of Kiwi life. There’s even a chance to journey to Middle Earth and The Shire, as well as catch the stunning southern lights in a Dark Sky Sanctuary.


Spain offers opportunities for students to become immersed in rich culture and traditions alongside unparalleled looks at art, history, science, technology, and beyond. Through a diverse landscape filled with lakes, mountains, volcanoes, marshes, forests, valleys and cliffs, there are endless ways to soak up fresh air while having fun along the way. The country is an ideal destination for elevating students’ Spanish-speaking skills, giving them a lesson in real-world usage


Whether you fancy England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, or all four, the United Kingdom is a storied land filled with history—and maybe mystery—worth exploring. Soak up highly recognizable landmarks, among them the world’s most famous clock tower, in London. A bustling arts and theater scene compliments museums celebrating timeless writers and a legendary detective. In Scotland and Wales, you get buzzing cities and off-the-beaten-path natural beauty with fairytale-like castles. And Northern Ireland is the ideal place for history buffs!


The Heroes Vacation Club is designed for those who heroically serve their communities, and knowing the time, effort and dedication our readers put into their students’ experiences, we’re thrilled to share this opportunity to register for a 60-day premium trial.

Sign up to receive exclusive travel discounts and access to hotels, resorts, car rentals, airfare and more!



tThese words are how you say hello in the following languages, respectively: French, Hindi, Spanish, Japanese, German, Russian, Dutch and Chinese.

Often, English-speaking people are hesitant to travel to a country where English is not the primary language. The fear of a language barrier and not being able to communicate with others and read street signs, maps, and menus prevents many people from exploring other countries where their native language is unfamiliar to them. The language barrier should not be a deterrent but a motivation for travel. Sugoi! (Japanese for awesome).

No matter what country your student group visits, it is imperative that you learn some basic words in that country’s native language before your departure. Not only should they learn how to pronounce the words,

but also know their meanings. Just like in the United States, a word may have more than one meaning and you don’t want to offend anyone. When you arrive in a foreign country and speak their language (or attempt to), locals appreciate your willingness to communicate in their native language and are motivated to assist you. More importantly, speaking another language creates less prejudice toward people who are different. It helps you to bond and foster an understanding of the interrelation of language and human nature. Sehr Gut! (German for very good). How do you learn a foreign language? Often, students take foreign language classes in high school or college. These courses help them to learn vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure. They can also learn a language through an

online program like Duolingo or Babbel. You could also watch a movie or television show, read, or listen to audio materials in another language. Of course, the best way to learn a new language is to immerse oneself in another country by participating in a study abroad program, living with a host family or just traveling. Ca Roule! (French for that’s great) Break it all down into bitesized lessons so that it is not overwhelming. Perhaps focus on short, simple dialogue words like hello, goodbye, please, thank you, where is the toilet, and how much does this cost? Then, focus on vocabulary words using flashcards, children’s books or games. Finally, use language apps like Google Translate to reinforce what has been learned. Most importantly, one should practice and use repetition and to


learn the new language. Kyaa baa t Ha! (Hindi for awesome).

I studied French for two years in high school, took German language classes for two years in college and traveled to Russia for an immersive one-month language course. I learned that knowing a language that was Latin-based (French, Spanish, Italian), German-based (German, Dutch & English) or Cyrillic-based (Russian, Ukrainian) is helpful to learn other languages of similar background. I do not speak any language other than English fluently; however, I can recognize words and phrases, some that I learned 40 years ago. Practice and repetition really works! Lekker! (Dutch for good).

On a personal note, when I arrived in Moscow for my language class, I had never seen or heard the Russian language. I did not even know the Russian alphabet and could not communicate or read at all. It was so frustrating! However, through language classes, flashcards and lots of practice, I learned basic phrases and vocabulary words. I was shocked at how much I learned in 30 days because of being fully immersed into their culture and the language program. At the end of my month-long study, I read street signs, translated menus to order food, and asked basic tourist questions. Zdorovo! (Russian for great)!

Once you arrive in a foreign country, encourage the students to practice using the native language. Yes, embarrassing language barrier mistakes will be made by saying wrong words, mispronouncing names and misinterpreting meanings, but those will be the moments that students will never forget. Rick Steves, travel guru, once asked travelers to share funny stories about language barrier fiascos. People

shared stories of ordering something horrific (to them) like snails, insulting someone they wanted to praise, getting on the wrong bus, buying items that were not what they thought they were, being unable to tell the taxi driver the address of the hotel, and even acting out words physically. I can relate to this last one, because while traveling in China, I could not read the menu and wanted to order chicken wings. Despite how many times I said chicken wings, the waitress did not understand so I stood up, flapped my wings and clucked. The waitress brought me chicken wings. Bang! (Chinese for great).

Before departure to a foreign country where English is not the

primary language, trip participants should be prepared to address the language barrier. They should follow the strategies and helpful advice about overcoming language barriers as written in an article, “Where Growing Minds Go Global” by Europarc Federation. They include: (1) speak slowly and carefully, (2) ask for clarification, (3) frequently check for understanding, (4) avoid idioms, (5) be careful of slang, (6) choose your medium of communication effectively, and (7) be patient. My advice is to learn a few essential phrases, enunciate carefully, and try to communicate visually. Have a translation app handy, and most importantly, have a sense of humor. Excelente! (Spanish for great).



tTamika Bradford’s students knew the very basics of George Washington’s legacy, but hardly the full extent.

That’s partly why Bradford took her class from Bronzeville Classical School in Chicago to Mount Vernon in Virginia, seated right on the Potomac River. At this historical landmark with a complex history, the students experienced the Telling Their Stories tour.

This powerful tour helps visitors reshape long-held perceptions toward one of the country’s most prominent figures and is core to the estate’s mission. The historians there are committed to telling the deep and complex history of Washington’s home by honoring the culture and legacy of everyone at Mount Vernon.

“We always learn about George Washington and these very simple facts about who he was,” Bradford said. “This tour gave the students a larger view of what it took for him to be who he was. It was behind the scenes of everything that everybody was doing for him, for him to be successful. It talked about the daily lives and the contributions of enslaved people, the legacy of everyone that lived there.”

Her students knew he owned slaves, but it was made much more real by seeing and experiencing

where they actually lived and worked—touching the bricks with still-visible fingerprints left by the slaves who made them. They heard stories of the struggles, achievements, and hopes of enslaved individuals, like Ona Judge, who served as Martha Washington’s personal attendant at only 10 years old.

There was also a powerful ceremony at The Slave Memorial, which was built in a cemetery where archeologists found 87 graves.

“The students were active participants. They were able to read a speech that was reflective of the suffering enslaved people went through, and that was definitely a pivotal moment within the tour,” Bradford said. “A few students volunteer and read the tribute, then two of the students go up and lay a wreath near this tomb/memorial, and then our guide gave more history about what the tomb represented, and some of the slaves that were in the log as living there in the 18th and 19th centuries.”

Bradford is an English Language

Arts teacher, and worked with a Social Studies teacher at Bronzeville to prepare for the trip. He wasn't able to join, but Bradford wanted to connect the trip itself to what they learned in the classroom, so she had students present their experience to the other teacher. They created a document of what was discovered in class, first, and then added details of what was discovered during the tour. “It helped the social studies teacher fill the gaps for them if there was anything that was missing, and to provide that aha moment within his reflective practice.”

It was a powerful trip that helped students learn so much in just one visit—not to mention everything else the group experienced on the tour. Now, Bradford is looking forward to the next trip, as more and more students feel not just comfortable but excited to travel. Bronzeville is visiting both Washington, DC and New York City in late May, and Bradford is excited to once again bring what her students learn in the classroom to life.

Photos © Tamika Bradford
SYTA.ORG 47 AD INDEX Alabama Tourism Department 26 www.alabama.travel Bob Rogers Travel C4 www.bobrogerstravel.com Boston Red Sox 22 www.redsox.com/tours Boston Symphony/ Tanglewood C2 www.bso.org Branson Convention & Visitors Bureau 33 www.explorebranson.com Carnegie Hall 9 www.carnegiehall.org Charlottesville/Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau 18 www.visitcharlottesville.org Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame 19 www.cfbhall.com Colonial Williamsburg Foundation 9 www.colonialwilliamsburg.com Destination Gettysburg 13 www.destinationgettysburg.com Discover Puerto Rico 42 www.discoverpuertorico.com Empire State Building Observatory 37 www.esbnyc.com Skydeck 18 www.theskydeck.com Gettysburg Foundation 45 www.gettysburgfoundation.org Graceland/ Elvis Presley Enterprises 22 www.graceland.com Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitor's Bureau 14 www.birminghamal.org Greater Merrimack Valley CVB 37 www.merrimackvalley.org Heroes Vacation Club 43 www.heroesvacationclub.com Huntsville/Madison County CVB 28 www.educationalescapes.org Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation 13 www.jyfmuseums.org Landry's Inc. 47 www.landrysrestaurants.com Marine Corps Heritage Foundation 28 www.usmcmuseum.com/education.html New England Aquarium 4 www.neaq.org New Jersey Division of Travel & Tourism 15 www.visitnj.org New York Philharmonic 11 www.nyphil.org Ottawa Tourism 36 www.ottawatourism.ca/en Philadelphia CVB 5 www.discoverPHL.com Rise NY 36 www.runningsubway.com Salem Witch Museum 22 www.salemwitchmuseum.com STEM Tours NYC 22 www.stemtoursnyc.com The Metropolitan Opera 27 www.metopera.org Top of the Rock Observation Deck 27 www.topoftherocknyc.com Tourism Winnipeg 32 www.tourismwinnipeg.com Universal Orlando Resort C3 www.universalorlando.com Virginia Beach CVB 29 www.visitvirginiabeach.com/grouptour Visit Savannah Area CVB 3 www.visitsavannah.com World of Coca-Cola Museum 23 www.cokeurl.com/schooltrips


tThe van door closed behind me as my foot touched down onto a gravel road. As our group moved packs of chips and energy drinks from the trunk to a couple of small, timeworn red wagons, I started to pay attention to the streets surrounding me. Newspapers and plastic wrappers settled in small puddles below boarded up windows and road signs. Though I could not see it yet, I knew what was hidden behind the rows of weathered buildings laid in front of me.

I was not nervous to go into Skid Row. I knew what to expect. Though in smaller ways, I had seen the tragedy of homelessness throughout my life. I had always pictured it as an unsolvable problem, or at least one that I could do nothing about. My dad and I had just flown into California for a short-term mission with the LA Dream Center to try to help however we could, but the hurt was powerful, and I felt powerless.

Making our way through the tent lined sidewalks of downtown Los Angeles with our group from the Dream Center, I could feel the desperate need for hope burning up every street edge and every little crack in the ground. The air smelled of misery and need. As we turned a corner and began to pass food out to different people and families, a woman in our group paused and pointed to the sidewalk. “This is where I used to live,” she said, halting us in our step. Stunned, we fell silent and listened to her explain how for a long time, desperation consumed her life. She had struggled to the point that her only choice was living there.

Disbelief shot through me as I stared at my surroundings. Fortresses of tarps and blankets crowded the pavement, sheltering chained up dogs that paced next to their sleeping owners. Just one year ago, this woman was living on the dirty, cracked sidewalk we stood on, yet here she was now, working to serve that very place.

It was people, she told us, that had transformed her life. They would come out every day, rolling carts of food, giving to whoever wanted. Hundreds of people’s lives are completely turned around every year by the love of God mediated by the volunteers that continue to go out every day. This was the love that reached this woman’s life. She was taken out of the worst circumstance and was rescued by the hope offered to her. The transformation of this woman did not require winning the lottery; it was just about consistency. Sometimes all someone needs is people who will give their time to go out and talk, wanting only to share love and hope. Walking along those roads did not open my eyes to the tragedies of this world, but to the fact that we all have the capacity to ease the weight of them.

Headshot © Skye Fowler

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