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Local Students Prepare to Travel Europe

on June 10, 2012 - 8:25am

Front row from left, Lynn Ovaska, Michelle Boerigter, Anna Grothaus, Katherine Joseph, Kayla Suazo and Erin Burr. Back row from left, Hannah Breshears, Megan Kelley, Anna Carroll, Taylor Mason, Chris Calhoun and Nick Padilla. Courtesy photo

By Carol A. Clark

Eleven newly graduated high school students from Los Alamos leave Monday on an educational tour of Europe.

Local psychology teacher Lynn Ovaska is leading the group with Tour Director Simon Jordon of EF Educational Tours.

The students will travel through three countries on the 12-day educational tour together with students from two other U.S. schools.

"During their trip to London, Paris, Florence and Rome, our young leaders will learn through the power of visiting actual historical sites," said Ovaska, a big believer in global education. "They will see many of Europe’s most famous landmarks, such as Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the Eiffel Tower and the fabulous Sistine Chapel. Local guides will give them behind-the-scenes looks at St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Louvre and the mighty Colosseum."

Ovaska describes her young travelers as being, "full of leadership, scholarship and friendship."

"The members of this group include national and local leaders in Key Club, committed and honored athletes, artists and dancers, student body leaders, recognized Girl Scouts, active members of local churches, lifelong friends and good neighbors," she said. "As active members of our community, they hope to develop a global perspective as they travel in Europe.

"Educational travel is a valuable experience for living in our global economy. By witnessing new cultures first-hand and experiencing history that is usually learned in textbooks, they plan to strengthen their skills as global citizens. They hope their group can forge the way for more Los Alamos students to travel in the future."

Ovaska always wanted to lead students on educational trips because of her own experience traveling to Europe with her favorite high school English teacher 25 years ago.

After her trip, she better appreciated lessons in future classes and had life skills to explore the world, she said.

Ovaska's favorite teacher, Mrs. Heyerdahl, continues to travel with her students and is happy to see her legacy continue through Ovaska sharing the world with her own former students.

Ovaska decided to travel with EF Educational Tours because of her positive experiences with them. In the summer of 2011, she was selected to receive EF's full professional development scholarship to travel with 35 other American teachers throughout China.

In addition, she completed EF's International Training in Paris, France for first time group leaders. Both of these experiences gave her a chance to assess EF’s system of educational travel and she said that she was impressed by their thoroughness and professionalism with group travel.

Not only did they educate her and take care of her needs on the tour, she said, but they are helping her become a successful group leader for her first trip this summer.

EF Tours has more than 40 years of experience in student travel and has offices in every major city they travel, which makes the group feel secure, she said. EF is also accredited, which means that students can earn college credits by going on tour and completing associated course work.

The $3,500 cost of a 10-day trip from Albuquerque includes round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, a full-time EF Tour Director, daily breakfast and dinner, entrance fees to attractions and guided sightseeing.

Even though most of the group worked to earn their own program fees, she said it has been a financial burden to afford a trip of this magnitude.

"If anyone would like to support these incredible young leaders financially on this educational tour, they can donate to an account that has been set up at Los Alamos National Bank," Ovaska said. "Checks can be made out to: EUROPE 2012: Student Travel Fund and can be deposited directly into account 01-424637-01. Any contribution – $25, $50 or $100 – adds up and will help this motivated group focus on the educational aspects of the trip instead of the financial ones."

Ovaska explained that since these graduated seniors have felt the community’s commitment to young people, they want to give back.

After they return from Europe and before they leave for college, the students will be happy to stop by local organizations to share what they have learned.

Contact Lynn Ovaska directly to arrange a presentation at lynnovaska@gmail.com

To see where in Europe the students are traveling, visit www.eftours.com/1049765

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