For some students, the traveling is a no-brainer. But for others—oftentimes, their parents included—the idea can feel overwhelming, or inaccessible, or too far outside their comfort zones to even be possible. As a teacher, you have a unique ability help families rewrite that story, starting in your own classroom. All it takes is a little encouragement, some friendly support, and a steady supply of snacks (see #2). Here’s how:
1. Explore the world in your backyard
You don’t have to go far to explore someplace new. Whether it’s a nearby temple or a local restaurant serving up a foreign cuisine, strolling around town is a great way to experience new cultures. Encourage your students to visit unique local spots with a traveler’s mindset , then report back to the class on their experiences. You can also bring different cultures into your classroom—think hearing from a guest speaker from a nearby museum, or a research project that encourages conversation with a neighbor from another country.
2. Give them a taste of travel
Don’t underestimate the persuasive power of a good spread. Put together a potluck by asking each student to bring in a dish from a different culture, or host an after-class cooking demo featuring foods from various regions of the U.S. Is a feast not feasible? A bag of international candy can do the trick, too. (Amazon has an excellent selection of treats to try.) Taste buds often beget travel buds, after all.
3. Use your tools
The Internet is your friend, trust us. There are a lot of cool tools on the web that can help students wrap their heads around travel. Here are a few to get you started:
- Google Maps: Help students get a better idea of distance and where they could go by exploring virtual maps. (maps.google.com)
- Guggenheim Online Museum: Get a peek at some of the world’s most treasured masterpieces and see them in all their glory without even leaving your classroom. (guggenheim.org)
- Google Earth VR: Let your students take a stroll through Japan’s bustling neon-lit streets or stand behind the timeworn walls of Puerto Rico’s Fort San Cristóbal—or find the best virtual expedition for your class. (vr.google.com/earth)
4. Be an ambassador…
Maybe your students haven’t traveled much, but have you? Even if it wasn’t a faraway voyage, your travels can help motivate students to take the plunge. So, if you have them: Talk about your experiences, what you did while you were away, the amazing foods you tried and the people you met, and why you would do it all over again—maybe with your students this time?
5. …then be a resource
While you’re on your travel soapbox, make sure your students know they can come to you with questions and ask you for help. It might seem like a no-brainer, but some students need a little extra support to find solutions to funding or figure out how best to talk to their parents about their travel ambitions