Bon voyage! Midway High School is planning its first study abroad trip, thanks to history teacher Kristen Hales. She wants her students to not only learn about history but also to experience it firsthand.
Five students, along with four chaperones, have signed up to go on an 11-day European adventure in June 2013 for a history lesson like no other.
“We will be going on a WWII tour of England, France, and Germany,” says Hales. “The kids will get to see the Royal Air Force Museum, the Imperial Cabinet War Rooms, Normandy Beach, the city of Paris, the Berlin Wall, and the Dachau Concentration Camp.”
The Midway teacher is eager to take her students to these historical sites because she sees a real need for global exposure. “Last year, while teaching, I noticed once again how many of my students had little knowledge of the world outside of Sampson County,” explains Hales. “They’re just unfamiliar with the geography of the world.”
A world traveler herself, Hales has shared her experiences abroad with her students. “I’m from a military family and lived in Germany for a while. I’ve been to the Dachau Concentration Camp, and I showed the students pictures. They kept saying how they wished they could see something like that,” says Hales.
Although the trip is already scheduled, there are still hurdles to overcome in order to actually get the students across the pond. “A trip to Europe is expensive. The cost per student is $3,800. With Christmas coming and the economy the way it is, it’s hard for some of the kids to pull together that amount of money,”explains Hales.
The students have held some fundraisers. They’ve had a car wash and are currently selling T-shirts. So far, they have raised about $500.
“We’re reaching out to members of our community in search of financial support,” asserts Hales. She is hoping that local businesses will provide scholarships and that community members will support their fundraisers and give donations. “More is needed and every dollar helps,” adds Hales.
Hales stresses that, even though trips abroad are expensive, they are well worth the cost. “Statistics show that students who study abroad are more likely to finish college in four years, and during college, they are more likely to maintain a higher GPA,” says Hales.
Global travel for students is also important to Hales because she realizes that part of her job as an educator is to help prepare her students for the 21st century.”We live in an interconnected world, and even though we’ve got great technology like computers, ipads, skype, and other ways of experiencing the world, there needs to be a tangible connection,” explains Hales.
“Some of these kids have never been outside of North Carolina so this trip is going to be huge for them. A trip like this will give them a picture of how other people live and just how big the world really is,” says Hales. “That is just what we want. We want our students to not only be global travelers but also to be prepared to be global citizens.”
The interest Hales has received about this first trip has been so encouraging that a second trip is already being planned for 2014 to Beijing, China.
If you are interested in sponsoring a student for this trip or making any kind of contribution, contact Kristen Hales at 910-567-6664 or via email at email@example.com.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 123 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.