Wildcats to go Worldwide Once Again: Why to Make the Trip

Dominican Republic - A photo of the Dominican coastline showing blue water, clear skies and lush vegetation. Salcedo states that this tour is one of the more adventurous options for 2023. Photo credit: westervilleworldwide.com

Dominican Republic – A photo of the Dominican coastline showing blue water, clear skies and lush vegetation. Salcedo states that this tour is one of the more adventurous options for 2023. Photo credit: westervilleworldwide.com

Daniel Boudreau, Feature/News Editor

With the end of the school year approaching, the opportunity has come once again for students to schedule next year’s world tours. These tour opportunities are offered at Westerville high schools every year and take place either during the spring break or summer after the year they were scheduled; in this case, these tours will happen during the  2022-23 school year. 

According to the Schoology newsletter sent by Westerville South Principal Michael Hinze, regarding tours for next year, “Students are invited to join one of several travel opportunities, including Galapagos Islands, London, Dominican Republic, student leadership in Iceland and Eastern Europe.”

The benefits offered by these tours can be indispensable to students that wish to develop a knowledge of the many different cultures around the other. Hinze said “When students travel, they expand their knowledge of the world around them, discover more about themselves, and grow more confident. These skills are critical for creating the global citizens of tomorrow.

History teacher Lisa Baughman elaborated “Students get a better appreciation of cultural differences and the experience of traveling to an unfamiliar place helps students develop confidence and independence.”

 Spanish Teacher Marisol Salcedo added that the exposure to different cultures is a huge advantage that allows you to compare the lives and experiences that others lead with your own and learn what makes people different.

Baughman stated that her love of travel began 14 years ago when she attended a trip to China for an AP workshop and that trip was what inspired her to help students to have cross-cultural experiences like what she had.

Baughman stated that people who neglect to have these experiences with different cultures outside of their own tend to become stuck in a metaphorical bubble where people have a hard time understanding other people who are different from them.

 Salcedo also acknowledged that living in a bubble can be an issue stating that “people who live their lives in one place don’t realize that there are other places and cultures outside of Westerville.” 

Salcedo is conducting the Dominican Republic tour scheduled for spring break of 2023. She said “Life in the Dominican Republic is much different than ours, and I hope it will allow students to see how fortunate they are, the Dominican Republic is not the richest.” 

Salcedo described this tour as one of the more adventurous options. It features surfing, snorkeling, swimming, boat rides, and other activities that students have likely yet to partake in. Salcedo further stated that students who have taken some form of a Spanish class will have an ample amount of opportunities to utilize their skills and engage with native students in their school environments. 

Baughman on the other hand is conducting the “Curtain Time in London tour” which will take place during spring break of 2023. “The tour is primarily theater based,” Baughman stated,” and students will be able to experience performances, theater workshops, and day trips to Stratford Upon Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare, and Oxford.”

When traveling through the school, Salcedo stated that they have the benefit of a “24/7 tour guide, bus drivers, hotels and a schedule provided by EF” Education First Tours is the company the school employs to coordinate and conduct the tours. 

Salcedo explained they plan out the tours and make sure that the time spent there is as well utilized as possible. Students on the Dominican Republic tour will be able to learn about the country that they are visiting while applying their skills in a foreign language. 

Baughman stated that navigating with a group that is familiar to you allows you to have a sense of comfort while visiting a different place and that “EF combines fun activities with educational experience.”

Education First – Education First Tours offers educational tours for students who wish to learn more about different cultures. EF is the company that the district uses to plan and conduct its worldwide tours. Photo credit: eftours.com

Regarding the experience students will have on the tour, Salcedo stated that the tours are “both fun and educational, you are not writing papers, but you are educating yourself by having fun.” Baughman stated that you are having fun with education and culture even during downtime, students also have some free time of their own to explore.

Indeed, these feelings are shared by a former Westerville City School student, who stated in a video posted on the westervilleworldwide.com website that traveling made her feel “Empowered and motivated to take a role in making the world a better place.” This student participated in a tour to Santa Cruz in the Galapagos Islands and said that the experience gave her “a feeling of excitement and peace, like this was what I was meant to do.” 

The former student further stated that the opportunity to travel abroad gave her cultural experiences that made her a better global citizen. She was accepted to the Arcadia University class of 2023 where she plans to study abroad and join the peace corps. For this student’s full story and information on upcoming tours, visit westervilleworldwide.com.

Regarding the waning effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on travel, Baughman stated that the trips would progress “barring any holdback, however additional protocols such as masks and vaccination status will be enforced.” She further elaborated that travel is beginning to normalize. Salcedo also stated that there will be no drastic changes perpetrated by Covid-19, she also states that “EF is extremely safety conscious.” 

Salcedo also stated that upcoming tours in future years include trips to Peru, Argentina and Japan in 2024, Iceland, Brussels, Paris, and London in 2025, and plans to go to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam in the future. For additional information you can visit westervilleworldwide.com, eftours.com, or www.worldwidewebtravelclub.