We caught up with our friend and teacher, Neil Curran to speak with him about organising a school trip to China. Neil's love of love of tutoring is what lead him into a teaching career, and he is currently a businesses and accounting teacher at Grace Lutheran College in Queensland, Australia.
Neil was inspired to take his students to China after visiting in the country in 2014 and saw an opportunity to put his dream into action in 2016 when Grace Lutheran started to build relationships with schools across China. Here are his words on why he loves being a teacher and why he decided to organise an international school trip with EA School Tours.
Why did you decide to become a teacher and how long have you been teaching?
I decided to become a teacher as I enjoyed tutoring children. I've been teaching now for 14 years.
What do you love about being a teacher?
What I love most about my job are the conversations I have with my students both about learning concepts and life in general. It is rewarding being able to pass knowledge on to students and watch them grasp concepts. The lifestyle the job provides is also a great perk you don't find in many other careers.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a teacher?
The biggest challenge I find in my job is presenting new information and learning concepts in a way that is meaningful to all my students. I've been using a variety of presentation styles in my classroom keeps things interesting, and staying up-to-date with new teaching trends, and pedagogy always helps.
Why did you decide to organise an international school trip to China for your students?
I first visited China in 2014 and always thought it would be a great place to take students. I was amazed at the culture, history and the infrastructure of the country - and of course, the food. Grace Lutheran is in the midst of developing partnerships with various schools across China, so I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to show the students the vast array of cultural aspects China has to offer. Moreover, I felt it was important for students to be aware of our biggest export partner and the influence China will have on Australian businesses over the next 20 years.
Why did you decide to use a school travel company to help you organise your trip to China?
The reason I decided to use EA School Tours to help me organise my school trip was primarily due to the language barrier. I felt it was imperative to have tour guides travel with us in a very foreign country, and I knew EA organised local tours guides to assist on their trips. EA was recommended to me by a colleague who had used EA to organise a STEM trip to America.
How long did it take to organise your school trip to China?
In total, our trip to China was two years in the making. Organising a school trip included making a presentation to the Grace Lutheran College Council, marketing the trip to students, hosting information nights for parents and families, communicating with stakeholders and staying on top of the relevant documentation.
What was the most challenging thing about travelling with a group of students?
The most challenging thing about travelling with a group of students was to make them understand the cultural differences between the two countries.
What were your top three highlights of the trip?
1. Climbing the Great Wall of China
2. Disneyland in Shanghai
3. Night Cruise along the Bund of Shanghai
The students had a fabulous time in China. They appreciated the exotic cuisine, the nightlife of Shanghai, the history of the Forbidden City and walking the Great Wall of China. Students also loved the shopping in China, particularly, the Silk Market in Beijing. Seeing the students appreciate the fascinating culture and history of China was extremely rewarding for me.
Do you think international school trips are essential to a student’s learning experience?
I believe the memories created on an international school trip can drastically enhance a student's entire learning experience. Being immersed in real-life learning is one of the most powerful educational experiences you can have.
What would be your advice for another teacher considering a school trip abroad?
I would encourage another teacher considering an international school trip to do it! It is professionally rewarding and a highlight in the school calendar. Don't forget to research the learning experiences on offer in the country you want to visit. To ensure the trip is a success, and to get approval from the school board, it must be relevant to student learning and provide lifelong memories.
With so much on offer, China is an appealing destination for teachers wanting to give their students a cultural and enlightening learning experience.