Teaching Traveling: Welcome to Karen Krzystof-Bansley! Karen, tell us a bit about yourself.
Karen: Hi, my name is Karen and I’m from the suburbs of Chicago. My travel experiences were very limited until after I graduated from college, but have been frequent ever since. Each year I make sure to travel both abroad and domestically. While the list of the locales that I have visited is even longer, some of the highlights from my travels include: Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand and all over Europe (Ireland, Scotland, Poland, Germany, Italy, and more). My domestic travels have taken me to thirty-eight states so far, and South Dakota is my recent favorite. My travels (depending on how far away I’m going) have been as short as five days or as long as a month. Antarctica is the last continent left for me to visit.
I have sixteen years of teaching experience; including educator experience from fourth through eighth grade, in both private and public schools. However, I’ve taught 6th grade exclusively for the last ten years and plan to remain with the same grade level. I teach within a K-6 setting, therefore I have the same students all day long.
TT: I’m so impressed by how much of the world you’ve seen! Tell us more about your travels.
K: I use the time during my summer break to satisfy my wanderlust. In addition I’m able to research various topics and strategies to enrich my skills and knowledge as an educator. I seek travel experiences that will aid me in my never-ending quest to be the best teacher I can be. My most recent trip, in July of 2014, was a two-week trip to Indonesia. In particular, I visited Bali, Yogyakarta, Bandung and Jakarta. In 2010, a trip to Southeast Asia was particularly inspiring and educational, and I was pleased to have the chance to return to the area. However I did not use a tour company for this trip. Instead, I carefully researched my options and planned the trip myself.
My class in Burbank, Illinois and a class in Bandung, Indonesia are beginning a pen pal relationship in order to get to know one another’s cultures more in depth. The Indonesian students are excited to have a chance to practice their English with a native speaker, and my students are excited as well. We are hoping to send them a package with a variety of items to help them better understand American culture, in addition to letters in English from their peers.
TT: How did you find this travel opportunity?
K: I found this unique opportunity to visit an Indonesian middle school through an educational parody writer named Mr. Dan Nicky. Mr. Nicky has visited my 6th grade class and, so far, we’ve written two educational parodies set to popular music together. Mr. Nicky, who lives in Indonesia part-time and Chicago the rest of the year, arranged for me to visit this school and to visit Ms. Yulianti’s English classes. In addition to the school visit, I was able to experience an Indonesian homestay with a local family, which provided a unique travel experience. This granted me inspiration for my future travels. I would like to incorporate more authentic experiences while in foreign countries.