Teaching Traveling: Welcome, Michael! Tell us about yourself.
Michael: My name in Michael Xiarhos, I’m 32 years old… I am born and raised in Warwick, Rhode Island. I graduated from Warwick Veterans Memorial High School, got my B.A. from Rhode Island College, my M.A. from Providence College, and I’m currently working towards my Ph.D. at Salve Regina University. I have been teaching history at the high school level for 10 years in Warwick and I just recently started teaching Theology at Salve as well.
My first real travel experience came as a student in my junior year of high school. My Chemistry teacher ran student trips with E.F. tours each year and this particular year she was planning on going to Italy and Greece. My mother who was on her own raising myself and my older sister, figured out a way to send me on this 11 day trip and from that moment I was hooked on traveling. It should also be noted that my mother had also sent my sister to France on an E.F. tour a few years before as well.
During college, In the summer of 2002, I had the opportunity to travel to China as an English teacher. It was a six week trip during which I taught in the Shen Zen province. My students ranged in age from 8-10 years old and some barely spoke English. In addition to teaching English we were expected to teach aspects of American culture. My choice was to teach and discuss baseball. My students actually performed “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” as part of a school performance. This was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. For the first time I was able to understand what it is really like to be the outsider, to have to rely on the kindness of others when you do not speak the language, and to feel completely helpless in a foreign environment. From the language to the food (I ate scorpion!) I really believe this experience helped me to become more sympathetic and empathetic to people traveling in the States.
Once I became a teacher I knew that I wanted to run student trips. I feel that the world really is the ultimate classroom; that travel opens the minds and hearts of people… it helps to eliminate racism and prejudice and brings people together like no other way that I know. Since I started teaching I have led tours to:
2007: France and England
2009: Spain and Morocco