Interested in global travel opportunities for teachers and school administrators?
To discuss this, I’m thrilled to welcome Peggy Campbell-Rush, an internationally known education expert who has been a Teacher of the Year, school administrator, and education author in her 42-year career. Peggy, tell us about yourself.
P: I began my international travel at the age of 19. I went for a junior year abroad program at Wall Hall College of Education in Watford, England. During the holidays, I stayed with an American family who sent their children to the American School of London.
They encouraged me to apply to student teach there in the fall of my senior year of college. ASL accepted me, but I had to find someone at my college who would sponsor me to allow this to happen. You see, no one had ever even gone out of the state of New Jersey to do student teaching, let alone out of the country.
After many failed attempts, I finally found a professor who went to bat for me. I did complete 4 months of student teaching at the American School of London and it whet my appetite for international travel. While living in London I took trips to France, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain and Greece.
TT: Love it! How do you find your next global travel opportunities?
P: Interesting story about how I found my second international trip which was a four-month journey around the world with the Semester at Sea program as a Resident Director. We sailed to 15 different countries circumnavigating the globe.
I learned of SAS back in the U.S. when I was a restaurant manager and trainer. I got my five best servers together to ask them what was their secret for excellence and work ethic. After many go-rounds in our discussion, one said, “I went on Semester at Sea”. The other four suddenly piped up, “I went on SAS too!”
They told me all about the college program that takes approximately 650 college students around the world, taking courses on board while at sea and doing international study and travel in port. I was so sorry to have missed this while I was in college, but they told me that I could apply as a RA since I already had my Masters degree. I applied, was accepted and sailed around the world in the Fall of 1983.
TT: WOW! Who knew Semester at Sea jobs were such a great option?!
Now, how did you find the money to fund your subsequent global travel?
I participated in the Hands Across the Water Teacher Exchange program where I went to Costa Rica for 5 weeks in the summer, and the teacher I lived with came to live with me and teach at my school that following September.
I also was accepted as a Fulbright Fellow to travel to South Africa to study the 10-year end of Apartheid and how it correlated with the 50-year end of educational segregation (Brown v. Bd. of Education) in the US. I also helped a farm school with their education plans and expansion.
During my stay in South Africa, I stumbled upon the orphanage for the African Children’s Choir in Cape Town. I visited and toured the school and then became a US sponsor and have had the choir visit my schools in the US five times.
I am also willing to work abroad to find travel opportunities. I was awarded a grant to travel to Singapore to study with Dr. Ban Har Yeap to study in-depth Singapore Math. To tag on to that trip, I volunteered to conduct a teacher workshop for the Green School in Bali in exchange for travel there and being able to visit their school for a full day. (The Green School in Bali, Indonesia is the largest eco-friendly school in the world, all made of bamboo.)
TT: Great idea to look into work exchanges. Now, tell us a moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.
P: Travel to Cuba before US visitors were welcome had a huge impact on me. Being the Assistant Executive Dean of the Fall 2014 voyage we were welcomed to Cuba as an educational trip. 650 students disembarked from our ship, boarded 17 charter buses, and were escorted by the Cuban military through the streets of Havana, Cuba to spend the day with the students from the University of Havana.
The powerful fellowship of these students welcoming us was something to behold. There was no political tension or ill will, only hundreds of students eager to welcome us with song, dance, lectures, food and friendship. Powerful and unforgettable.
TT: Amazing. How have your global travels impacted you in your career, and as a person?
P: Travel opens your heart, your soul, your eyes and your compassion. We are so lucky in the US and it is so necessary to travel to see our good fortune and pledge to help at home and around the world as opportunity present themselves. Do good wherever you go for as long as you can.
As an administrator of a school that has many families from around the world, I am able to talk to many visitors about places they have come from. I have traveled to, worked in or studied in 55 countries as of 2018.
I also bring travel to my students. As we embrace global studies at my school, I can bring my experiences, photos, travels and perspectives to all of my students. They can vicariously travel with me.
TT: So great. What advice do you have for educators who are dreaming of travel?
P: I keep at it! Keep researching, keep applying, and keep networking. Do not give up 5 minutes before the prize… is a phrase that I always use when I think I am at the end of my options and have exhausted all possible ways to get what I want. This makes me go back and try to problem-solve again.
I think people are always better on a “do over” meaning try, try again as the saying goes. By not stopping when I hit a wall or setback, I have accomplished many things in my life… just by not giving up. Travel is SO worth every effort you put into it.
TT: Thanks so much, Peggy! Readers, what questions or comments do you have for this global travel and education expert?
If you want to check out some of Peggy’s wonderful books on education, along with more about her work, go to her website, at this link!