For teacher Brett Derrico, a recent visit to China provided a chance to travel, pursue a goal, and expand the knowledge base he brings into his classroom. “I have long desired to travel the many historical sites that I teach my students every day. When I traveled to Teotihuacan in Mexico a few summers ago, I noticed how much it added to my instruction the next time I taught it in school. Since then, a door has opened for me to fulfill this desire and I intend on taking advantage of the opportunity, both for me and my students”.
The “door” Derrico references is the one offered in his role as a travel tour leader for students through Education First (EF), an international education organization providing tours, high school cultural exchanges, language schools and an MBA program. EF provides tour leaders with training in either Rome, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, or Beijing. Derrico was among approximately 40 other teachers for the November 7-12 Beijing training. They received formal training from consultants and other seasoned teacher tour leaders, and on the actual tour they sampled bussing, grouping, tipping, and other factors they will encounter on the tours they will lead in the future.
Derrico’s tour included visits to Beijing’s major historical sites, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, and the Great Wall of China. He also experienced many cultural activities such as a Kung Fu Show, Peking duck dinner, a tea house, dining and entertainment.
“The experience was great,” said Derrico, reflecting on his trip. “Not only did it address the many questions I had concerning my individual tour, but I also learned so much about China's culture, both past and present, that I did not know about”. He added that he loves to learn about other countries and cultures. “Just the thought of visiting other places to see the famous historical sites, eat different food, and interact with the people is most exciting for me."
And how does this experience impact Derrico’s students? “Visiting these sites and immersing myself in other cultures stirs up a passion in me that comes through in my teaching. Not only do I return with a lot of educational and cultural information, but the excitement with which I teach is infectious”.
Derrico is the World History teacher for BRVGS ninth graders at Goochland High School.