Hi everyone! No, we haven’t forgotten about you :) We hope your school year has been a good one. Now that Fall Break has come for a lot of us, it's time to rest, relax, and recharge. A lot has happened in the past couple of months here at Lessons From Travel. We’re excited for a new chapter in our development and can’t wait to share it. In the weeks ahead, you’ll be seeing a lot of changes and additions from us. We’re not calling it a “re-launch,” but it’s along those lines.
The biggest among these changes is our relocation to Greece! We’re getting back to what we love and think Greece has a lot of potential as a new destination for a program. One of our goals is to be more in-depth with you, giving our audience a more transparent look at our travel and the programs we’re putting together. We get a lot of questions from people wanting to know more about what we do and how we do it. Therefore, we want to get better at providing information as well as cultivate relationships with all of you!
So enjoy your much needed time off. Maybe consider your plans for next summer? Currently, we have a rough outline for Thailand/Cambodia. We'll be skyping with our partners in SE Asia this weekend to, hopefully, put the final touches on that program. So exciting! Also, we will be completing the next step in our pursuit of becoming a non-profit. Anything to help all of you with program costs, right? And of course, don't forget about Aruba! The pull of the beach is always a strong one.
And as always, follow us on our social media accounts for updates and the Greek adventure starting this month!
Unfortunately, it appears summer is coming to a close. But what a summer it was! From our earlier posts, you can see Aruba went off in the best way possible. Our teachers got that perfect balance of educational stimulation and vacation. ISA treated us (and the students) well and we couldn't be more excited for the next PD trip down there.
Having said that, it's now time to shift our focus to the next awesome trip. Currently, we've gotten the green light for Cambodia and have initiated a conversation with Germany. Of course we'll let everyone know the details as soon as we get them.
For now, you might have noticed we've added a new opportunity to our PD page. Although it's technically not a PD session, we've received quite a few inquiries about teaching English abroad. Our story of traveling the world while teaching sparked an interest in a lot of our followers. Well, we're excited to offer the chance for people to get started on that amazing, life changing adventure!
Our close friend (and educational mentor), Dave Hopkins has started his own fully-accredited Hybrid TEFL program based out of Ban Phe, Thailand! Dave is seriously the one guy I would go to for any and all questions relating to teaching English abroad. He's been into it for decades having lived and taught in various places throughout the world, worked with the US State Dept. through PeaceCorps, refugee programs, and others in an official capacity. We can't brag enough on Dave. AND he's in Thailand! We're big fans of Thailand as a place to live and work. Ban Phe is right across from the island of Koh Samet, which is a beautiful destination for vacationers. Knowing what we know now about teaching English, moving abroad, and what to expect, we can honestly say this is one of the best ways to get started on your life abroad!
But for now, we really hope you have a great beginning to the new school year! I've just started a new teaching gig this past week that I'm really excited for. It's a new lab school that is partnered with Kentucky State University. Even though summer is officially over for me, I'm having fun getting settled into a new opportunity.
Check back for more updates!
And just like that, it was over. What a wonderful week, though! Yesterday was the conclusion to the STEAM camp, which involved the students putting the final touches on their projects in order to present to their parents at the expo. We had 3D water cycles, water purifiers, terrarium aquariums, google slide presentations, info graphs, and even water turbines! It seemed like chaos, but our teachers were right there lending a hand. Honestly speaking though, there were some students that were in the zone and didn't need our assistance. We had some awesome kids!
I asked our teachers about their experience and working with the students. They agreed that they made some genuine connections to the kids. There was even the joke of the week of potentially bringing some of them back to the US!!!
But now that the camp is over, we're going to hang out on the island and get back into "beach mode." We can't thank Tess and Pieter at Makerpedia enough for their work. Everything was tip top and the teachers had an amazing experience. And as we all reflect on the program, we anticipate next year being even better! In the meantime, here's the video we showed the parents at the expo (4min). Enjoy!
"What I've found amazing is how the students have worked and shared in the learning process, together."
Being on a Caribbean island you'd think that it'd be hard to all of a sudden switch gears and jump back into the classroom. However, on Monday, there we were side by side with the students, mixing it up, getting creative, and introducing them to new concepts and ideas. The theme around the camp is "Water Is Life." Tess and Pieter, the organizers as well as full time faculty members at ISA, have done a fantastic job designing the week's curriculum and activities. They've allowed us to play a complimentary role in assisting in the activities and even taking over periodically in the instruction of the day.
One aspect of this experience that I hear from our teachers is their interaction with the local students whose first language isn't English. It isn't that there is a language barrier. Quite the opposite. They've been impressed on how much English they've mastered. And for these local students, English is not taught in their schools. Their language of instruction is either Dutch or the local Papiamento. This caused a little concern from our teachers going into it, however within the first hour those concerns were
The time has finally come! We're all settled in now and our program has gotten off to a fantastic start. It was a bit rocky at the very beginning with a 3am wakeup, 2 hour drive to the airport, and some "mechanical issues" courtesy of Delta Airlines, but they worked it all out and four hours later we were landing in Oranjestad, Aruba :)
As with any longer term stay, we immediately began the settling process of rental car, phones, grocery run, and getting into our new digs. It's a necessary evil, but it was a great opportunity to introduce one of our teachers that's attending, Nic Skaggs, to the island. It was a whirlwind of an orientation for him, but he was eating it up!
Since we don't actually start the STEAM program at the International School of Aruba until Monday, we all took the weekend to simply chill and stress the vacation aspect of our program. Therefore, we've been taking full advantage of dinners on the beach, sleeping in, a few snorkeling sessions, meeting up with the ISA teachers for pizza, and experiencing the annual Aruba High Winds competition! The competition is a series of races and freestyle events involving kite boarding and windsurfing. Very cool stuff.
However, tomorrow we begin the STEAM camp with the kiddos. Tess and Pieter, the organizers of the camp, have put together a wonderful week's worth of activities centered around the theme, "Water is life." I think the students are going to be blown away. I know the teachers were impressed. So be sure to check back with us here as well as on social media!
Every. Summer. Every single time summer kicks off I have to play DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's Summertime. I was an avid viewer of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air way back in middle school and when the music video premiered, I thought it was the coolest song ever.
So here we are fresh (pun intended) off the 4th of July festivities, deep into summer. For most all of us, we're recharging our batteries from the school year past. Some of us have kept on with conferences and other various PD opportunities. Some of us have simply worked on some much needed personal projects at home while others have packed up the fam and took a long overdue vacation. However, I would bet there's some of us keeping an eye on the calendar keeping a mental note of how many weeks are left before the dreaded first day of school when teachers have to report.
For us at LFT, we just wrapped up a 16 day tour of Spain and Portugal! We tagged along with the fine people of GoAfar.org to experience their Spanish archaeology program. Somehow, however, it morphed into a tour of the Iberian peninsula for us...which was totally fine! Being a close friend of ours, Mat Saunders, who is the founder and director of GoAfar, showed us a great time and the work his students are doing is truly ground breaking. Based in Zorita de los Canes, his team has been given permission by the government to excavate the castle that sits above the town. Upon our arrival, Saunders' team had just unearthed a previously unknown antechamber at the castle! The whole camp was abuzz. Besides