Curious about an educator study tour to Brussels to learn about the EU governing institutions?
Read on to hear from teacher, Julia Vaughan, about how this grant-funded trip was!
Teaching Traveling: Welcome, Julia! Tell us a bit about your background.
Julia: I teach in Asheville, NC, at a public k-12 charter school. I have been teaching for over 22 years, and am currently teaching reading and math interventions in middle grades. I love spending time with my family in the beautiful places around Asheville, teaching, learning, and traveling.
TT: Lovely! Tell us about study tour you recently took to study the EU.
J: Earlier this week I returned from Brussels and Luxembourg. I was studying the EU governing institutions with UNC’s Center for European Studies. I was originally accepted in 2021, but the trip was postponed due to global health circumstances.
I applied through Pitt, and when accepted, the program funded 1,000 Euros of travel costs through a generous grant, plus all breakfasts and one group dinner. Because of this, the overall cost was very affordable.
This nine day trip clarified a lot about how the EU works, and how it is vastly different from the US government. I can’t compliment this program enough. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that was well-organized, and gave me so much information and perspective.
TT: Wonderful! How do you find your travel opportunities?
J: I find Facebook’s group “Scholarships, Grants and Summer Institutes for Teachers” to be extremely helpful. Kent Gompert does an exceptional job organizing information to make it user-friendly and up-to-date for all educators.
TT: How did you find the money to fund your travel?
J: Although I save money to travel, I have found many resources that provide grants for travel opportunities. These are not luxury trips, but if you love learning and travel and communicating what you have learned to your students, then this may be a route for you.
Some additional resources include National Education Association’s grants, Fund for Teachers, and National Endowment for Humanities. They all do amazing work to provide teachers with unique and powerful opportunities.
TT: Great suggestions! Now, tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.
J: I think, perhaps, when our group met with the European Council’s Permanent Representation of Sweden was one of the most moving moments of the journey. The representative spoke so humbly and earnestly about the Russian aggression on Ukraine and gave such incredible insight as to the European perspective and measures taken to assist the Ukraine people. To hear others speak about their nation’s challenges and efforts during that pandemic was enlightening as well.
TT: So powerful. How have your travels impacted you?
J: I feel much closer, personally, to Europe and the European people than I did before my educational adventure. I think that globally everyone became a bit isolated and focused upon what was going on in our small circles. It’s incredibly healing to step out of that circle a little bit and remember that we are not alone in this effort of democracy and world peace.
TT: Absolutely. What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel?
J: I think that if you want to travel but are afraid or intimidated about traveling alone, it never hurts to begin with a smaller, domestic journey. That will let you know if travel grant opportunities are something that can help you grow as an educator. Look for grants to support costs and reach out to other teachers who can help you.
Good luck, and safe travels!!!
TT: Thanks so much, Julia! Readers, what questions or comments do you have about this EU governing institutions study tour?
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English from Boston who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched TeachingTraveling.com in 2010 to share expert global education resources, and over 1.6 million readers have visited over the past decade. Lillie also runs AroundTheWorld L.com Travel and Life Blog, and DrawingsOf.com for educational cartoons. Do stay in touch via subscribing to her monthly newsletter, and following @WorldLillie on social media!