District partners with EF Tours to offer students international travel options

by McDaniel Hartranft, ’17, Image courtesy Education First Tours

Ever feel like high school is a series of equations? Class + Homework = Quiz. Quiz + Class = Test. 4 * Test + Class = Exam. Multiply that a couple times and that’s a course. Despite this recurring equation, other educational opportunities exist at UAHS.

During the spring and summer of 2016, the district has scheduled five trips to different parts of the world through Education First Tours (EF Tours). These tours are not the average family vacation; each trip is planned with the idea of cultural immersion, allowing students to not only see places firsthand but also to allow them to experience the destinations in a memorable way.

IB coordinator Cynthia Ballheim, who oversees the UAHS trips through EF Tours, said, “You can read about a lot of places, but you can’t have the experiences unless you visit them.”

EF Tours is a “company built on experiential learning, cultural immersion and authentic connections,” according to its website. The company partners “with educators across the world to create global education programs while blending classroom, digital and experiential learning for students.”

Imhoff QuoteIn its partnership with UA Schools, EF Tours will offer two trips to Peru in 2016. The Peru trips include a day at the ancient Inca site of Machu Picchu. In addition to this, the group will explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas, art, culture and service in Peru as they connect with Peruvian communities and work to support the economy and educate in the schools.

Ballheim, who experienced the Peru trip during the summer of 2012, said, “The people have so little, but they are so happy.”

For 2016, UA is offering five tours of varying costs. Two Summit trips are being offered: one in Iceland in the spring and the other in Europe in the summer.

According to the EF Tours handbook, a Summit trip includes a focus on education with experts. The Iceland trip consides the future of energy, while the European trip explores human rights.

2016 UA Tours

Language Immersion Tour |Traveling Language Immersion Tour in France: March 19-28 2016 – $3,705.
Visit the Louvre; meet an artist; admire the Eiffel Tower, have dinner with locals; go to a cooking class; run around the streets of Paris on a scavenger hunt; tour Notre Dame, stay in Paris three nights; stay in the city of Nice for four nights. Group Leader: Julia Voegt-Brooking (jvbrooking@uaschools.org)

Global Student Leaders Summit: The Future of Energy | Iceland: March 19-28 2016 – $3,160.
Explore Iceland’s natural beauty; discover how Iceland is taking the lead in renewable and sustainable energy; learn from world-renowned experts at the leadership conference. Group Leader: Cynthia Ballheim (cballheim@uaschools.org)

Service Learning Tours | Exploring Art, Culture and Service in Peru: Spring and Summer 2016 – $2,925.
Visit Cuzco; take a walking tour to a local marketplace; enjoy a weaving demonstration; teach at a local school; enjoy four sightseeing tours; take a train to Machu Picchu. Group Leaders: Lynn Reese and Laurie Sutherin (lreese@uaschools.org, lsutherin@uaschools.org)

Global Student Leaders Summit: Exploring Human Rights | Artistic Expression in London and the Netherlands:
June 18-28 2016
– $4,350.
Take two walking tours around London; take an Amsterdam bike tour; visit the Anne Frank House; travel to The Hague for a leadership conference. Group Leader: Nancy Volksen (nvolksen@uaschools.org)

Educational Tours | Italy and Greece: Summer 2016 – $2,915.*
*This tour is for middle school students. Enjoy six sightseeing tours; visit Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica; take a a ferry to Greece; gaze at the Colosseum; see the Pompeii Roman Ruins. Group Leader: Eric Wylie (ewylie@uaschools.org)

“World-renowned speakers and experts on the future of energy lead discussions and workshops to inspire and educate you. Past speakers have included Al Gore, Jane Goodall and Sir Ken Robinson,” the EF Tours handbook states.

The Iceland and Europe trips exercise social thinking skills, as well.

“Working in small international teams, you will learn the design thinking process—a creative problem-solving technique used by companies like Apple and Google—and then use it to propose your own solutions to [the challenges explored during the Summit],” the EF Tours website states.

The trips not only provide cultural perspective, but some tours offer additional learning opportunities. The EF Tours website breaks down its “weShare” platform, a program that focuses on project planning, experiential learning, post-trip reflection and a creative presentation.

“Students learn on a deeper level when what you’re teaching connects to their own lives,” EF Tours’ website states. “Our weShare platform makes sure that happens on tour. It taps into each student’s strengths and passions, helping them put a more personal lens on their experience. Post-tour presentations and videos give them a chance to reflect on and share what they’ve learned, and even earn high school or college credit.”

Upper Arlington’s partnership with EF Tours shows the district’s commitment to prepare students for an increasingly global society, superintendent Paul Imhoff wrote in the district’s EF Tours brochure.

“Through collaboration with EF Education First, our students will have the opportunity to travel abroad with their teachers,” he wrote. “The option of worldwide travel is one of many steps our district is taking to ensure our students remain on the cutting edge of 21st century education and the globally competitive marketplaces.”

While some classes students take throughout their education in a public school can be reduced to a series of quizzes, tests and exams, the district’s partnership with EF Tours offers students a unique opportunity for cultural perspective.

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For more information on the 2016 trips, students can attend an April 15 informational meeting in the UAHS auditorium at 6:30 p.m. The Group Leaders for individual trips are listed above; students should consider contacting these individuals directly for information regarding a specific trip.