Friday, February 13, 2009

Teacher/tour director

When I was teaching at Hall High School in Spring Valley, I began to organize trips to Europe for me and my students. I had been there twice myself: first, at age thirteen with my grandmother to Poland for a month, and then again with friends in college to the Italian Riviera on a trip organized by the university. The travel bug bit me--hard!

So, I got the idea of taking students to Europe in the summer--you know, those "seventeen days, seven countries" tours. I led these groups in 1981, 83, and 85. Besides students, I had a number of adult friends join us. All I had to do was recruit the travelers, orient them, and chaperone them. The ACIS company of Boston did all the real work.

Some of my most memorable moments were . . .
. . . occasionally "losing" a student (i.e. Jay in Heidelberg, Paula in London and Rome)
. . . LONG bus rides between countries
. . . thirty minutes in the British Museum
. . . gypsy pickpockets in the Vatican
. . . being stranded in London Heathrow Airport for twenty-four hours
. . . protecting the girls from Italian men
. . . watching the boys use their mother's credit card
. . . drinking Bellinis at Harry's Bar in Venice (not with students) instead of a gondola ride.

Best of all, though, was getting to know these kids in a new way and seeing the wonder and delight on their faces of as they experienced the best of Europe, from a medieval dinner in London to trying out French phrases in Paris to eating our first "real" pizza in Italy. We all have wonderful memories. And at least one student found her life's calling on this trip; she is now an architect.

I would save a few dollars from every paycheck for two years just to go on these trips, but it was never enough of Europe. I had to find a way to get more of it. Stay tuned for the next installment . . . .


  1. Hello, Tour Director! I enjoyed reminiscing, but my hair .........................very scary!

  2. Maryellen,
    You are such an inspirational person.

  3. You remembered me getting lost! How funny. i remember getting lost in Rome. then they held on to me. and i remember sitting in a bar in London and Foo telling a joke with a punch line with a nasty word about the Queen and us having to smooth it over with the Queen's guard. that was a great time. Our hair is too funny. i barely recognized myself. and i remember those gypsy pickpockets too! - Paula

  4. you know, i just reread this, and yes, i did find my life's calling on this remember so much! and it remains one of my passions...thank you.