Organizing an Overseas Trip - any advice?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Doug_HSTeach_07, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Dec 5, 2008

    Once again I am asking for some much-desired criticism and advice. I am in the beginning stages of planning for a trip to Europe in the summer of 2010.

    This trip will supplement and reinforce what I have taught in my World Geography and US History classes, as I want a D-Day tour, Paris and France journey, and concentration camps, geography of Germany and central Europe, etc.

    I just talked to the EF lady today on the phone and of course she talked it up a great deal. But I know that surely there are problems with such a process, and I want to minimize those as much as possible.

    Just to give you a basic picture of what my situation is: My school is 120 high school students and about 55 of those are in my Geography/History classes. 40% of my students are on free/reduced lunch.

    What would you suggest? Have you been on a similar trip in the past? Any input would be much appreciated.

    Thanks!!
     
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  3. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Dec 5, 2008

    I have been to London with EF, and I'm pretty sure I'll be going again this spring break, this time to London and Paris. I had a wonderful experience with EF! We flew nonstop from LA to London, were picked up and delivered to our hotel, and then hit the ground running. Our tour director was terrific - she was originally from Texas and now lives in London, and she was very knowledgeable. The hotel was tourist class, clean and cozy with private (miniature) bathrooms for each room - nothing fancy, but well located. Breakfast was cornflakes and white toast - after the second day I opted to sleep in and have one of the granola bars that I'd brought along, and some of my kids found a local bakery and bought pastries. Dinner was at a different ethnic restaurant every night, including some of the best Chinese food I've ever had. We saw two plays with our package, including the musical Wicked - I thought we'd be up in the balcony, but we actually had wonderful orchestra seats.

    Since my group was so little (just six of us) we were consolidated with two other schools, one middle and one high school - sometimes the younger kids were annoying, but most of the time we were fine. If you have a group of 50, you'll have the tour all to yourselves, with your own bus, and you get a free spot with every six paid participants. You should use most of those for chaperones, but you can keep a couple as scholarship spots for kids that will have trouble coming up with the money. Since you're planning so far in advance, you can start fundraising as soon as you set your dates.

    Overall, we had a great experience. The value for the money is quite good. Some other of our teachers use another of the companies (can't remember the name) because the breakfasts are much more substantial, but the cost is also higher.

    Hope that helps!
     
  4. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Dec 5, 2008

    Yes, it certainly does help! It's great to hear a good story about EF.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Dec 6, 2008

    I know nothing about EF.

    But the bit about 40% being on a reduced lunch caught my eye. Can we assume that the kids would have to pay their own way.. that this isn't a scholarship?

    To be honest, in these economic times, I would hesitiate in planning such an expensive trip. I would imagine that there will be lots more layoffs after Christmas, and in the months between now and the trip.

    I think it sounds like a wonderful learning experience, but I think your timing might be off a bit.

    edited to add: I did want to add that it sounds like a wonderful trip! I chaperoned one to London/Paris a long time ago, and the kids learned SO much. And it inspired me to talk my husband into a vacation in London a few years after we got married.

    I commend the idea, I'm just concerned about the timing.
     
  6. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Dec 6, 2008

    DD & I went the year before she was a senior and we went to France, Italy, England, The Vatican, & Monte Carlo with EF and I can highly recommend it. We had a group of 18 and a smaller group joined us. We didn't have to worry about funding because we all just paid our way but I know in the initial planning stages we talked about fund raisers and EF had plenty of suggestions. Someone's really going to have to do a lot of work.

    The food was outstanding, hotel accommodations were wonderful. We stayed at some older hotels (perfectly safe) and they were BEAUTIFUL, marble floors in all the rooms, French doors w/balconies and flowing linen curtains. It was an outstanding experience, I'd go again tomorrow!

    I know another individual who goes and she takes 6th graders because she said that she'd heard it was harder to keep the older kids from drinking. We didn't have any problems with that at all because we had about half parents, half kids.

    The woman who planned our trip, it was about 8 years ago, has done one every other year since that one, so it was a great experience for her too. EF operates a fine tunned machine with the tours, extremely well organized.

    The hardest thing for many of us was that we packed too much and we were advised not to, travel as light as you can because you'll want to bring souvenirs home.

    Go!!! Kids need to have their horizons expanded, the world is big and they really have no clue.

    Please PM me if you have any specific questions.
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Dec 6, 2008

    Oh, if you do go, look into the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London.

    It's their nightly lock-down, complete with ghost stories and all sorts of fun historical trivia. Tickets are free but must be ordered well in advance-- and I think there are a maximum number you can request, so you may have to split up your group.

    But it was one of the highlights of the trip my husband and I took in 1992.
     
  8. Maxadoodle

    Maxadoodle Comrade

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    Dec 6, 2008

    My daughter's Latin teacher planned a trip to Italy for her classes. It had a graduated scale from $4500 for 10 students to $3200 for 25+. Students were also expected to pay for lunches and, of course, souvineers (sp?). We are in a well-off area, but only 3 people (according to my daughter) signed up. I agree with Aliceacc that the timing because of the economy is not right.
     
  9. GoldenPoppy

    GoldenPoppy Habitué

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    Dec 6, 2008

    We take our Upper School to Europe every year with EF. Last year was London; this year will be Venice and Florence. The teachers that have gone have always raved about how organized and efficient the guides have been.
     
  10. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Dec 6, 2008

    What is EF? What does it stand for? Summer of 2010 give you about 18 months to save. This might be a good way to teach kids about saving and working toward a goal. Which kids will be invited? Could you talk to current freshmen and sophomores about this? They would need to commit now. You could do all sorts of fundraisers to help them earn the money--bake sales, yard clean-ups, car washes, the possibilities are only limited by your immagination. A local youth group raked leaves for the elderly and infirm in exchage for a donation of at least $10 per yard. They earned quite a bit of money this way.

    You will probably need to hold some sort of parent meeting on the subject, so have all your ducks lined up in terms of financing, how much everything will cost (from passports to airfare, to spending money) and what they will get in return. Also clearly spell out where you would be going, what you plan on doing and visiting, the education value of such a trip, your expectations for their learning, any post-trip activities you want the kids to do (like making presentations at school or reports or whatever.) Imagine every conceivable question that could come up and get the answers in advance. Summer of 2010 might be cutting things close. Would the winter break of 2010 be possible? That gives you more time to gather all the information you will need for the parent meeting.
     
  11. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Dec 6, 2008

    runsw/scissors here's the web site: http://www.eftours.com/

    As far as timing goes, there's really never a good time to go, just plan it and go. "The time" for your kids will be gone if you wait.

    Two meals a day were provided, breakfast and dinner. Lunch was on your own and there were always plenty of places to grab a panni or pizza.

    I had a student a couple of years ago who is going on a U.S. Ambassador trip this summer, and it's going to cost $7,000.00. It's for 3 weeks. He's an extremely gifted child and in the 5th grade going into the 6th. His family really can't afford it, but the mother has written letters to every business in town asking for donations. She's also written major corporations like Wal Mart, Tyson, J. B. Hunt, Dillards, all All-Tel (all state based companies) and has received a tremendous amount already. She's doing a raffle right now and people from church have heard about it and are asking how much she needs.

    EF will also provide info for you to help get you started. They also have a payment plan so you don't have to shell out the whole amount at one time.

    You could begin to build your own legacy at your school and plan a trip every other year.
     
  12. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Dec 7, 2008

    I respect the comments about the economy, but our area really hasn't been affected too much by the recent downturn (sounds shocking I know).

    However, there are some kids here who really could benefit from a trip like this. They see the news and hear the stuff that goes on, but they really don't have any idea of how big the world is and how much they're missing out on.

    In addition, many of the parents probably can't afford to take the whole family on a Europe trip like this. This would be a once-in-a-lifetime thing for them and I believe that they would want their kids to take the chance.

    I figure that with 18 months, that is plenty of time to save, collect donations, hold fund-raisers, etc. I think it would be an awesome opportunity, a great learning experience, and quite possibly something I would like to continue doing the rest of my career.
     
  13. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Dec 8, 2008

    This is an outstanding opportunity for you, I'm glad you're seriously considering it. Keep us posted on your progress!
     
  14. Ross

    Ross Comrade

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    Dec 8, 2008

    I have studied oversees and it is a wonderful opportunity. It is a great way for students to enlarge their thinking about the world.

    However, I am also concerned about the 40% of your students that are in the free lunch program. Fund-raising is a great idea but please take a hard look at the total expense versus what you can realistically raise. There is a lesson in itself for the students. Economics.

    I hope you can mange to get the money.

    Consider at trip to Bastogne, an important part of WWII history.
     

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