Local residents seek to expand opportunity for educational travel

Photo submitted to the Times Observer From left are Jewel Rozanski, Matt McKissock, and Gladys Archer. They were in the Asia side of Turkey at the remains of an old Spanish castle at the Bosporus, developing the itinerary for an Istanbul trip offering as part of their new business partnership, CulturED Travel.

Dr. Seuss may have been the master at imparting life lessons with his own whimsical style. In his book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” he wrote, “You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”

It sounds like a simple concept, but in reality, the cost and details that go along with traveling the world often leave it as nothing more than an item on a bucket list. Especially for high school and college students.

Several local residents want to give students the chance to check that off the list and experience cultures and destinations all over the world.

So, they created a way to do just that.

CulturED Travel is a locally-based business offering student travel experiences for high school and college students and their families. The business is a partnership between Gladys Archer, Jewel Rozanski, and Matt McKissock. Archer and Rozanski are Spanish teachers in the Warren County School District. McKissock is the founder of McKissock Learning. So, all current educators.

“We all agreed with the opportunity that travel provides for expeditionary learning experiences that help create global citizens and instill intercultural competence,” Archer said. “We saw a need and were fortunate enough that the opportunity came up.”

The need is to provide educational travel available to more students, according to Archer.

“We really want to get students out there,” Rozanski said. “Those opportunities weren’t there for me when I was young.”

As teachers, Archer and Rozanski have seen the life-changing effect that travel, both nationwide and abroad can have on students. Also, as teachers, they understand the hurdles that can make planning a student trip challenging, if not impossible.

“You take on a lot of responsibility as a teacher,” Rozanski said. “The advantage to planning a student trip through our business is that we are the program director. We organize everything including all forms necessary from adults and chaperones. The teacher is just another chaperone.”

A CulturED program director goes on each tour. Each program director is familiar with the locations traveled and act as the first point of contact in the event of any emergency.

Teachers also don’t have to be bogged down enforcing rules during a trip, according to Archer. “We have one set of guidelines for everyone,” she said. “You might have multiple adults and teachers with different ideas of what is appropriate behavior on a trip. If each traveler abides by all of the guidelines, safety becomes almost a non-issue.”

Archer and Rozanski both hope that teachers who may have not included a trip in their curriculum due to a lack of student numbers may reconsider. “Realistically, a teacher can’t plan a trip for three students,” Rozanski said. “This allows them to combine with other teachers. Then the parents can decide if they want their student to take part. It doesn’t have to be through the school.”

Rozanski emphasized that CulturED Travel is not affiliated with the school district. “This is open far and wide to any students who can handle this opportunity,” she said. “So far trips are offered nationwide,” Archer said. We’ve had interest from schools in other states.”

The business is also working on providing scholarships and fundraising opportunities for trip-takers. “That will be kept local just for students in Warren County,” Archer said.

Anyone interested can attend the official CulturED Travel launch at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, at the Conewango Club. Information about the business and how to enroll for tours will be available.

McKissock, who has visited more than 30 countries in just the past five years, was not available for comment. He was in Spain.

Archer and Rozanski agreed that he would happily share his favorite quote from Mark Twain.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

For more information, visit culturedtravel.org.