A Teacher's Journey with Global Exploration for Educators
Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO) is a non-profit organization that helps educators to travel overseas. We're featuring GEEO this week and are very happy to share the experiences - and photos! - of one of the teachers from a recent GEEO trip. Molly Last is a 1st grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary School, in San Francisco, CA. She traveled with GEEO this past summer (June 25-July 10). We were lucky enough to sit down and talk with Molly about her experiences, going to Machu Picchu, inspiring students to travel, and more. Here's what she had to say...
WE: What led you to go on a GEEO trip?
ML: I found GEEO when I did a web search for teacher travel. The thought of traveling with a group of people who had the same interests as myself was very appealing. The opportunity to have two home stay and school visits was compelling. My trip to Peru was an insiders view to the educational system of Peru and an opportunity to share with a home stay family a bit about my own culture and learn about theirs. In fact the home stay was one of the highlights of my trip!
WE: What so attracted you to Machu Picchu, as a must-see?
ML: Having recently been named one of the 7 new ancient wonders of the world, Machu Picchu is one of the most beautiful and mysterious places on our planet. How could the Inca people who had not yet developed the wheel nor had beasts of burden, manage to haul the gigantic rocks weighing many tons up the steep mountains that encompass the site or another question, how did the Inca people haul all the dirt and rocks up the mountain to create the terraces where food was grown. Being on the site this summer and pondering those questions and many others posed by our informative guide provided by GAP tours and GEEO our teacher group had much to absorb during our one day visit to the site. To say Machu Picchu is amazing doesn't even come close to the overwhelming feeling I had when I visited this remarkable site. It's too beautiful for mere words and I'll remember having visited this ancient place for many years to come.
WE: How did going on the trip change you? How has/will it influence(d) your teaching?
ML: I think it's always humbling to see people how people live and work in their natural settings. I was able to see a side of democracy in action in the form of protests against government policies. I was very moved by my experience in Peru. As to my teaching I've come away with several fantastic lesson plans which I hope will engage my young students. I hope to write a few grants to help my students learn about potatoes and quipus. While the study of Peru is not a part of my curriculum, gardening and math are and so I've found a way to celebrate the Peruvian culture through these lessons.
WE: How can you inspire your students to travel and experience different cultures?
ML: I'm fortunate to work in a multicultural classroom where celebrating our different cultures is part of the framework of my school. Being an avid traveler myself I love sharing pictures and realia from my excursions. I brought back quite a few teaching artifacts from this trip to enhance my lesson plans. With first graders it's not so much the idea of travel it's more about the possibilities to learn new things and met new people by going places. If I can give the gift of being open minded to new experiences to my young students that I will have done my job well.
WE: Thanks so very much, Molly, for sharing your extraordinary experiences with GEEO. We appreciate it!
For more information, please see our interview with GEEO founder Jesse Weisz, at http://www.wanderingeducators.com/best/traveling/global-exploration-educators-organization-geeo.html
Photos courtesy and copyrigtht of Molly Last.