Teaching Traveling: Welcome to Mandy Littlefield, an American teacher whose passion for Britain was enriched by a vacation to London!
Mandy, tell us about yourself.
Mandy: I live in Massachusetts and work as an assistant teacher in a local high school. This has been my profession for the last five years, and I truly enjoy it. Eventually I would like to complete my degree in History and become a fully licensed teacher of the subject.
As well as being an assistant teacher, I also maintain a website called “Mandy’s British Royalty” and write for my blog, “The Royal Representative“. I also write a weekly article about royal news for the site “Anglotopia“, a place for all things British and British-American!
TT: What fueled this obsession with Britain?
M: My husband and I went to London for our honeymoon in 2008. It was an experience we will never forget. The trip was a wedding present from my in-laws, and we stayed in a lovely little place called the Kensington Rooms Hotel.
We were within walking distance of Kensington Palace and its famous Round Pond, Hyde Park, and Buckingham Palace. We hopped onto the famous Underground to get to other places such as the National Gallery and Westminster Abbey.
As a royal historian, this trip was one of the most profound experiences I have ever had. Walking through the Abbey was amazing. Imagine walking down the very aisle the Queen walked for her wedding and her coronation. Buried there are iconic figures such as Winston Churchill and Lord Mountbatten. It was breathtaking!
Visiting Buckingham Palace was incredible, too! I can only describe it as surreal. After a lifetime of seeing so many photos, it seems like a place with which you’re personally acquainted. Once you’re there in person, you almost can’t believe it. It is awe-inspiring.
Happily we got to see something a little out of the norm. One day, we took a walk to go see the changing of the guard, but unfortunately there was a sign that said “No changing of the guard today”. We were disappointed, but the longer we stood there, we noticed that there were photographers arriving and lining up their cameras. As it turned out, the Queen was in residence and she was receiving the South Korean ambassador that day. We saw a couple of carriages driving the ambassador and his entourage, as well as British representatives, to and from the Palace!
TT: How did traveling to London affect your teaching?
M: Our visit to London helped me to give more life to my presentations and various writings on the subject. To actually be in the spots where history took place makes teaching the topic more lively, I think. That trip has inspired me to try and visit more places, whether it’s around England, Germany, the Netherlands, or further! After leaving your comfort zone of home and experiencing another country, you get the urge to do and see more. I’m now studying German and Dutch to help broaden my experiences.
TT: What advice do you have for teachers who want to travel, and travelers who long to teach?
M: One of the many great reasons to work on the high school level is because there are opportunities to take the kids on trips overseas. Spanish language teachers take their students to Spain, and French teachers take students to France; students interested in history can take the World War II trip, which a lot of our kids are on right now for Spring vacation. The trip includes visits to important historical sites in England, France, and Germany.
If you teach these subjects, you have the opportunity to enrich the experience for the kids on these trips because of your broad range of knowledge. It will also enrich your own life because not only are you experiencing it for yourself firsthand, you get to share it with young minds.
If you are a traveler who wishes to teach, your experiences will be invaluable to teaching because you’ve been there, you’ve seen it, and you can help guide students on their class trips to important sites, and also take them off the typical beaten path, so to speak, by introducing them to places that they may never have seen on a regular tour.
TT: Thanks so much, Mandy! Readers, what questions do you have for this Royal Historian?