Local Students Travel to Europe on Educational Tour

Students participating in the 2013 European Tour. Front row: Lynn Ovaska (tour leader), Sara Lane, Keiko Tanski, Emily Silks, Adriana Gutierrez, Janali Gustafson, Dana Crooks, Danielle Parsons, Caro Jaime, Morgan Schake, Danielle Ortiz Back row: Amy Neal, Kristin Christensen, Bryce Theesfeld, Kate McCown, Andrew Li, Daniel Dunning, Kyanna Martinez, Gabby Conley-Lopez, Sophia Barkhudarova, and Ben Stewart. (Not pictured, Sean Reardon, Madeline Margevicius, Nick Hill and Nathan Lang.) Courtesy photo

Staff Report

A group of 24 graduated Los Alamos students will going on an educational tour of Europe from June 13-June 25.

The group will be led by Lynn Ovaska, local AP psychology teacher and believer in global education, and also chaperoned by Rob and Kathy Hipwood and Eric Ovaska. This 13-day life-changing educational tour of four countries will be led by an expert tour director with EF Tours, Ovaska said.

During their trip to Berlin, Prague, Munich, Lucerne, and Paris, the  young students will learn through the power of visiting actual historical sites, including the concentration camp Dachau. Local guides will give them behind-the-scenes tours of cities and their most famous landmarks, such as Checkpoint Charlie and the Louvre.

The students will also celebrate their graduation along the way, with one evening of Swiss food and folklore, and another evening in Paris floating down the Seine. To see where they are going, visit the tour’s website at: www.eftours.com/1225728.

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

Ovaska decided to travel with EF 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 for first time group leaders and successfully led last summer’s Europe 2012 tour.

All of these experiences gave her a chance to assess EF’s system of educational travel and she is impressed by their thoroughness and professionalism with group travel. Not only did EF educate her and take care of her needs on tour, but they helped her become a successful group leader, she said.

Ovaska always wanted to lead young adults 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.

Her favorite teacher, Mrs. Heyerdahl, continued to travel with her students for over 30 years and is happy to see her legacy continue with Mrs. Ovaska sharing the world with her own students. “These 24 newly graduated seniors are full of leadership, scholarship, and friendship,” Ovaska said. “The members of this group include committed musicians, honored athletes, talented artists, active church members, lifelong friends, and good neighbors. As confident student leaders, they hope to develop a more global perspective of their role in the world.”

Educational travel is a valuable experience for living in our global economy, Ovaska said. By witnessing new cultures first-hand and experiencing history that is usually learned in textbooks, the students  plan to strengthen their skills as global citizens.

Last summer, Ovaska traveled with 12 seniors to help forge the way for more Los Alamos students to travel. The 2013 group easily planned this year’s trip and they have experienced  lots of commitment from community members, Ovaska said.

“Because of the Los Alamos citizens’ support with the Europe 2013 fundraisers, the students are willing to give back,” Ovaska said.

After they return from Europe and before they leave for college, Europe 2013 seniors are willing to stop by local organizations to share what they have learned. Contact  Ovaska directly to arrange a presentation: lynnovaska@gmail.com

EF Educational Tours has over 40 years of experience in student travel and offers the lowest possible prices for the highest quality tour. Even though most of the group worked hard to earn their own program fees, it still has been a financial burden to afford a trip of this magnitude, which costs $4,000.

To support these young leaders financially on this educational tour, donate to an account that has been set up at Los Alamos National Bank. Checks can be made out to Europe 2013: Student Travel Fund and can be deposited directly into account 01-424637-01. Any contribution will help this motivated group focus on the educational aspects of the trip instead of the financial ones, Ovaska said.

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