If anything could be considered common knowledge, it’s that we learn best through experience. We learn by doing. This is not a new concept. The notorious Roman emperor Julius Caesar infamously said, “Experience is the teacher of all things.” I couldn’t agree more.
When I wanted to learn how to repair the drive belt on my lawn mower, I took the mower apart and figured it out. (This was a monumentally difficult task for an admittedly mechanically-challenged person.) When children are learning how to swim, they must get in the water; when they’re learning how to ride a bicycle, they have to first hop on the seat and begin pedaling. When I studied to become a classroom teacher, I first had to student teach and gain some classroom experience under the watchful eyes of my cooperating teacher.
A couple months ago, I led some high school students from middle Tennessee on a Holocaust in Europe trip that was organized by EF Tours--an excellent company that has spent the past 50 years organizing educational student tours. This fast-paced two week trip spanned eight cities in three countries, and it provided these students an excellent opportunity to experience different cultures while learning and experiencing many well-known Holocaust sites like Auschwitz, Birkenau, Dachau, and the Warsaw Ghetto. The students experienced all sorts of new things, including: purchasing things using three different currencies, having to pay to use public restrooms, trying local food, riding on a bullet train, and interacting with people whose worldviews and cultures are drastically different from what they’re used to back home. By the end of the trip, they got to experience the fact that people are really not very different, no matter where they live.
I’m excited to announce that I am planning another EF Tours trip, from June 19th through June 25th of 2018, to a much less depressing location--Costa Rica! Any high school students and their adult family members are welcome to attend. On this action-filled trip, we will participate in an ecological workshop, go zip lining over and through the tropical rainforest, experience a thermal springs, enjoy a snorkeling activity, participate in a local exchange, visit Rincon de la Vieja National Park, enjoy a boat tour of Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, visit La Fortuna Waterfall, and take a tour of a coffee plantation. As awesome as all of this sounds, the best part is that students who attend this trip will have the opportunity to experience being immersed in another culture. No amount of learning from within the boundaries of the United States can replace personally interacting with people in their homeland. There is a limited amount of space available on this trip. Anyone who is interested in going with me to Costa Rica should e-mail me at SteinEFTours@gmail.com before all of the slots are gone, and I will get you more information!