Global Education Fair tells of adventure, opportunity


Nikol Slatinska

The first Global Education Fair will be at 6:00 p.m. tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 22 in the media center. The purpose of the fair, coordinator Rachel Reed said, is to inform students about the 2016/2017 educational tours led by teachers. Other than Reed, other teachers involved are Austin Reed, Michael McGinty and Bryn Orton. Art teachers Carrie Stephenson and Abigail Gorsage will also be leading tours.
These trips take place every year and involve students traveling to a foreign country with a teacher and a group of students. The objective of the trips is to teach students about foreign places through a fun, educational experience.
The tour coordinators thought it would be a good idea to have an event where students and parents can learn about opportunities provided by the trips and learn all the information in one place. Reed said the trip organizers thought about having a meeting previous years but never organized one until now. She could not predict the number of students expected to attend, but hopes for a big turnout.
Reed said there are many benefits to students for going on the trips, which will be in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Dublin, London and Paris in 2016 and Scotland, Ireland and the Highlands in 2017. Some of those benefits she listed include learning about new cultures through first hand experiences, learning independence, self-reliance and adaptability, meeting new people and having a competitive edge on college admissions and scholarship applications. The trips also give students the chance to bond with their teachers and peers.
“It’s a great way for teachers to get to know you outside of the school setting- as a teacher/counselor, I have seen students on tour act in ways that I would never would see them act at [school] and that insight has helped me in writing letters of recommendation,” Reed said.  “And there’s a new friendship and camaraderie you share with those people you traveled with; when you see them in the halls or in class, there’s an unspoken bond formed from this shared experience.”
Stephenson thinks global travel is important for students of the 21st century.  She said growing up in Columbia, students are lucky to experience diverse cultures, but it is not until they visit other places, outside of United States soil, that students get an authentic experience with a different culture.
“Obviously, traveling allows you to see cool places, but I hope the students understand that traveling is much bigger than an Instagram picture,” Stephenson said. “Students gain new insights into cultures and they get to use key skills that will help them in the future, such as communication and decision making.”
Gorsage, who is leading the Paris tour, said travelling makes people more empathetic, understanding and compassionate global citizens. She said when people take a moment to see how others live, it does a lot for their understanding of the world.
“I hope they find an appreciation for the world,” Gorsage said about students coming along on one of the trips. “I hope they long to discover more of it, but also appreciate the beauty of home.”
For the students who do go on one or more tours, Reed hopes they learn that the world is much bigger than RBHS and Columbia, Missouri,and yet much smaller than they may think. she believes traveling makes people less self-centered because they see different ways of doing things and realize that different doesn’t always mean “wrong”. They get to try new things and reach outside your comfort zone.
“Traveling is a unique and unparalleled way to experience the things [students] read or hear about, and the experiences teach you in ways that classroom learning alone just can’t accomplish,” Reed said. “I also hope that they make new friends, try new foods, attempt to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak their language and discover new things about themselves.”