Of the many memories I have made in my years of travel with MEI, one of my favourites has to be my first lesson ever as a teacher. Sitting at Hyde Park in London, teaching about the modern world; Surveillance, Terrorism, and the start to the 21st century. My lesson was interrupted by the Queen, who was receiving the King of Spain, all while MI5 agents ensured the Queen's safety with snipers and surveillance. During my first lesson, I could not have planned for such a vivid example of the themes.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
All MEI trips allow students and teachers to grow and learn from our travels in the world together. I have grown and learned so much from my colleagues and my students on each of my programs, but the aspect that sticks out most is patience. Patience waiting for flights or hotels, patience waiting for museums or restaurants, and patience with students and new travellers trying to find their way. I truly believe that patience is one of the most essential traits for any teacher, but travelling with 30 teenagers across Europe has developed my patience far more than I could have ever imagined.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
The best story I have heard from a returning student was actually from one of my students' parents. They wrote to me, "... As parents, we are most impressed and even conversations at home about current events have been even better because [our daughters] critical thinking has been elevated and she is asking phenomenal questions now that she is viewing things with a different lens." As an educator, it is always my goal for students to see the world with different perspectives to understand any topic.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
As a History and Geography teacher, my choice is simple: Expedition to Tanzania. That program (while the most different) offers a unique opportunity to live and learn from locals while seeing some of the world's most important ecosystems. The World Issues course allows students and teachers to dive into the current issues facing Tanzania, Africa, and the developing world more broadly, all while camping on Safari or volunteering with a local school group. For me, the combination of location and learning puts Expedition to Tanzania on the top of my list.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
MEI Academy is unique because of the people. MEI works because of the people involved, from the enthusiastic and knowledgeable teachers to engaged and motivated students. We often say MEI teachers, students, and parents are “kindred spirits” because of our shared values and love of travel. On every program I have been a part of (including as a student), I’m always proud of how MEI travels. As a student group, we often have some friction trying new places or new locations, but we always rise to the occasion. Most recently, in Amsterdam on the Footsteps Through the Modern World program, the hotel was very hesitant to accept our group. However, when we left, the hotelier and staff at the hotel said they had never had such a kind and respectful group of students, and we would be welcomed back anytime at any of their hotels. Another example that comes to mind was in Switzerland at the restaurant where I was having lunch. They mentioned that they only accept one group of students from a school in Canada, MEI Academy.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
The people. No matter where I am in the world, or what company or school I am engaged with, the most significant factor in success comes down to the people involved. MEI has always picked the best people, and many of our students return as teachers because they know the program, they know the expectations and buy-in to the MEI ethos. Live your education.