International travel is a passion of mine. Engaging with different cultures and exploring the world provides me with new perspectives on issues both large and small. From 2012-2016, I visited over 20 countries while serving as the international director for my previous university and the experience, while exhausting, was life-changing. Squeezing in lightning-fast visits to legendary sites between partner meetings became the norm. In fact, if you are interested, I can provide you with a schedule to see the London sites in less than three hours or take a running tour through the Forbidden City in Beijing. (Yes, you'll get quantity, not necessarily quality.)
While these trips provided me with the opportunity to scratch items off of my bucket list, they also provided transformative experiences that permanently changed me. Visiting teachers and administrators in Argentina and Vietnam demonstrated just how much educators around the world have in common. CPE’s trip to Haiti in 2017 humbled me as I witnessed the profound needs of the children and the incredible sacrifices made by the teachers to ensure the schools provided a quality education. However, no trip was more transformative for me than an educational tour through Central America in 2015. In spite of the environment's lack of resources, I encountered so many teachers, parents, and volunteers who did incredible work educating children. These interactions provided me with a newfound perspective on some of life’s daily challenges. Upset about your work commute? I know teachers who walk five miles to school each day. Frustrated with your teaching schedule or lack of prep time? Some teachers work three shifts and finish the day at 7:00 PM, not necessarily at the same school. Frankly, it is difficult for me to get upset at a barista making a mistake with an order after meeting malnourished children who are so fragile that we were warned not to hug them too tightly in order to avoid breaking a bone.
While these experiences helped to ground me, other moments reminded me why I love being an educator. These included successfully co-teaching lessons in Spanish and English, sharing jokes with students, engaging in professional dialogue with educators to explore the joys and frustrations of teaching, and introducing macaroni and cheese to Argentine teachers. If these experiences pique your interest, I'd invite you to join us on our upcoming travel event this summer.
In July, CPE is leading another Teachers Teaching Teachers intercultural trip to Guatemala to work in schools sponsored by The Nicolas Fund. This trip is open to educators and school counselors as an opportunity to share professional knowledge, engage in dialogue with your Guatemalan counterparts, and develop new friendships. For transparency’s sake, please understand that this professional development experience will include long days and challenging moments. It's not structured as a vacation. Yet with the challenges will come blessings: you will experience the beautiful mountain regions of Guatemala, explore a number of cities and villages, meet amazing people and passionate teaching professionals, and make lifelong memories. Most importantly, you will return home transformed, filled with compassion and greater clarity on what is important in life. Are you up for the adventure?
-Dr. Pete Renn