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Council for Educational Travel, USA

CETUSA is dedicated to the mission of "reaching out to encourage a lifelong journey of global peace and understanding." We support this mission through the implementation of exchange programs for high school students - both American and international - and trainee and internship programs for university students/young professionals. This blog space is meant to continue the conversation on the value of education through experience - more specifically the experience of study abroad. There will be guest blogs here as well as announcements of resources for students, parents and teachers to learn more about study abroad and the global perspective.

Category archive for: Traveling Teachers

Alternate Reality

Posted in Teacher Resources, and Traveling Teachers

I will never forget my time spent in Ecuador.  I am so thankful to CET for this amazing opportunity.  There are not enough words to express the depth of my gratitude.

In only eight days, my husband and I were able to travel all over many different parts of beautiful Ecuador.  Our trip of a lifetime began in the sprawling capital, Quito, which is a huge city hidden high in the majestic Andes mountains.  We explored the equator and equator museum.  We traveled to Coca and stayed overnight in the Amazon rain forest.  It was AMAZING! I will never forget how beautiful and peaceful the jungle was, or how captivating the monkeys were as they played together and jumped from tree to tree.  I had a blast conversing with indigenous people in Spanish and browsing through intricate hand-made crafts at the Otavalo market.  I was in awe at the stunning Spanish architecture of the old part of Quito.

The highlight of the trip for both my husband and myself was spending time at Fundacion Amiga, a very special school in the heart of impoverished Esmeraldas on the coast.  This school is supported by CET and the AiDucatius Foundation.  Esmeraldas is a beautiful, tropical area with an abundance of exotic fruits and overwhelming poverty.  However, in the heart of the poverty, lies the jewel that is this blessed school.  At Fundacion Amiga, we were privileged to meet the priest and his helpers who have built and grown the school through private donations.  Fundacion Amiga is a safe haven where the children of drug-addicted and struggling parents find refuge and stability.  We saw hundreds of happy children playing, learning, and enjoying a meal that for many is their only guaranteed meal of the day.  Fundacion Amiga works hard to teach job and trade skills to the students so that they will have a hope for a future after their time at the school has ended.  Despite growing up in hard conditions, the students at the school exude joy and appreciation for the school that is helping them to have a better life.  Throughout the world, and especially in this coastal town, education is the lifeline giving a hope and future to many.

This experience was unforgettable and will impact my teaching for years to come.  I have already begun sharing my travel stories and cultural experiences with this semester’s Spanish students.  It is an awesome feeling to be able to teach them about Ecuador’s culture first hand.  Thank you so much, CET!

Fundacion Amiga2
Amanda, Christy, their husbands and their guide visited Fundacion Amiga, a school in impoverished Esmeraldas, funded through support by CET International and AiDucatius.
The capital city of Quito.
Coca in the Amazon.

Students performed for the visitors

Teachers Traveling for a Cause – Christy

Posted in Teacher Resources, and Traveling Teachers


Christy Tripp-Arkema –  ESL teacher, Byron Center High School and Middle School, Byron Center, MI

Christy is another one of our contest winners who will be traveling to Ecuador this month.  Christy describes the value of incorporating international and cultural awareness into her ESL classes.  Discussing the impact of poverty on access to education, and how access to education impacts the quality of life for many around the world brings context and meaning to English lessons for these children.

Christy Tripp-Arlema with her students
Christy Tripp-Arkema with her students

“Because I teach ESL, I have a lot of freedom in what I can teach in my classes.  I loved teaching the lessons on poverty and education in my higher-skills ESL class this year because of this essay competition.  My students were able to learn so much about poverty around the world, and we all shared stories with each other about the poverty we have seen or experienced throughout our own lives.  Next year I want to incorporate the same lessons into that same class (I will have different students), and also into my beginning ESL class.  Sharing stories about poverty and education, especially personal stories, is a great way to incorporate speaking and writing into ESL classes.  We learned a lot about research as we searched for stories about others who rose out of poverty due to access to education.  And the essay-writing process itself was a wonderful teaching tool that helped my students better prepare for writing essays in all of their general education classes.”