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World Class Programs


World Class Programs offers high school students the opportunity to study abroad and experience cultures from around the world. We hope to prepare students for an ever more globalized world while allowing them independence and exciting experiences abroad. Through our Experiential Learning Method students use hands on learning and immerse themselves in different cultures for the summer of a lifetime.



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Yes, I recommend this program

One of the instructors told me to write in my review that this program made my dreams come true, and though he was joking, I would be remiss if I did not admit it to be true. This was my second year of doing an academic summer program abroad, and this by far surpassed the last program. There were only two other students on the program with me, which was unusual for them, but this made the experience all the more enjoyable. The more intimate group was completed by three instructors, two of whom were full-time and all of whom were more fun than any teachers I've had so far. They did an excellent job of walking the line of both friend and instructor so that I felt both supervised and at ease around them. Though only there for two weeks, I found that I grew a lot as a person and conquered a lot of my fears, particularly socially. My one friend on the program even commented that I was much more confident than I had been previously that week. I tend to overanticipate things and come up with far too lofty ideals and this is one of the rare occasions in which all of my expectations were actually realised. This trip was transformative for me—and yes it did make my dreams come true.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't take the instructors for granted, for all three of them were truly some of the sweetest people I've ever met,
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Yes, I recommend this program

The Florence trip with World Class Programs was one of the best experiences of my life. I learned so many interesting facts and saw so many things in Florence that I never would have learned if I had not gone on this program. I think one of the best parts of the program is that we weren't just tourists in Florence- we actaully lived there for two weeks. I knew my way around and knew so many little tidbits about the city that it started to feel like a home. The staff on the program were also absoulty amazing. This had been the first time that I had traveled alone so my mom and I were a little nervous, but the staff was extremely supportive and lovely. They were so kind and approachable and always there to help. We could joke around with them and they always valued our thoughts and opinions. I really really enjoyed all of the classes, excursions and activities that we did. Each helped show me aspects of Italian Culture and futher my education on Italian art and history, and even a bit of language. I made amazing friends who I grew so close to in such a sort amount of time and I can't wait to keep seeing them even after the program ends. Even though this is very cliche, this program was eveything that I hoped for and more. I would absolutly recommend this program to any teenager who is interested in learning and having a great time. World Class Programs made all my dreams come true :)

What was your funniest moment?
Spending time with the other student and staff was always very fun. We had a bunch of jokes all together and the atmosphere was always very light and easy going.
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Yes, I recommend this program

As a 16 year old girl, this trip was my first time traveling out of the country alone. Not only did I make some great friends while abroad, but I cannot stress enough how incredible the staff was at ensuring I was having an enjoyable time. All the staff loved kids and were relatively young themselves, making it easy to develop a personal relationship with all of them. The activities were worked around what we (the students) wanted to do, which I personally loved. Having taken the fine art and drawing course, I can say I greatly improved in all aspects of my artistic abilities while also having a relaxing, pleasant time doing so. The teacher was the best and made the classes so much fun. 10/10 program, would definitely recommend this experience to anyone looking into it :)

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Go into the trip with a positive mindset even though it can be slightly nerve racking at first
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Yes, I recommend this program

In short, world class programs was probably the greatest decision I ever made. I learned, I had so much fun, and experienced a country as a student the way I felt was most fitting. This trip was amazing, I reccomend it to everyone.

In a longer format, if you are having second thoughts, please keep reading.

As a high schooler who wouldn't normally just ship themselves off to a country to learn and experience the world, with parents who were concerned about my safety and overall happiness and experience, and with the abundance of choice when trying to find a program that covered all my wants and needs while staying in a reasonable price range I could afford, I felt lost and just overwhelmed by what I was filtering through to find the perfect summer trip.

World Class Programs was everything I wanted, and more. The program staff were professional and genuinely cared for our wellbeing, our safety, and our experience. Not only did they make sure we had everything we needed, they also went out of their ways to make sure that we were able to do activities we were interested in or experience or learn things we were interested in. Through the trip their effort and dedication was obvious and helped to reassure us that if we needed anything (even a trip to the McDonald's to cure homesickness) they were ready and willing to do their best to get us what we were after. Even before the trip had even begun, they were attentive and were willing to talk with us face to face over video call, and chat back and forth, about any and every concern or question we had. The WCP staff truly created a safe and welcoming environment for its students. Parents - if you are unsure, trust me when I say that your children are safe in World Class Programs's hands, and they will have the time of their lives.

Our living arrangements were excellent. We had a nice comfortable and simple set up that took the stress off. The space was clean and orderly and our air conditioner was a blessed piece of machinery.

The classes were well organized and well executed. I learned so much about Japanese history and language from the staff. Not only were they well informed in our classes they were ready for any questions we had. The best part for me was that our classroom was not just a room, it was Japan. As a group we visited castles, both reconstructed and original, and explored the streets of what some would only read in a textbook. We explored and learned with very hands on techniques that helped reinforce what we were learning. When we learned Japanese language, it was never boring. We were out on the town using our language skills and learned phrases with real locals who were extraordinarily kind and helpful, in shops, and restaurants, and even just around the city. We even learned a few dialect differences between cities that were interesting and just information I would have not learned otherwise.

While the trip was academic, it did a great job of feeling like it was all fun and games. The academic to entertainment ratio was perfect. The detail and effort put into our weekend activities and trips was plain as day. We visited so many cities and even a few not listed on the webpage. As a group we shopped in the buzz of Osaka's dountonburi, experienced authentic and delicious Japanese cuisine, traveled like a local using the trains, participated in Hiroshima's emotional and beautiful peace festival to commemorate the atomic bomb drop, enjoyed the quiet and serenity of traditional Japanese gardens, we visited Nara and shared the streets with deer, saw Himeji's feudal castle and explored the grounds, visited and participated at shrines all around Japan, stayed in ryokan in the beautiful Kyoto, experienced a tea ceremony while wearing traditional Kimono, and of course spent time exploring Tokyo's streets.

I truly cannot say enough about this program. In the full three weeks I spent abroad I can honestly say that I wish that I could have stayed longer, I love japan even more now that I've experienced it through this program. The staff were amazing, and my roommates were sweet and I will miss them. By the end of the trip all of us, staff included, were one big family, without them it would not have been the same. My experience was truly, and I cannot say it enough, the best I have ever had. Literally the only bad thing about this trip, was that it eventually had to be over.

You won't regret World Class Programs. Take it from an alumni.

What would you improve about this program?
Make it longer.
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Yes, I recommend this program

During the three weeks I was in Japan I went to many places. From petting deer in Nara. To putting a lantern in the river in the Hiroshima Peace festival. The first few days I had hard time adjusting. I was terribly homesick. I talked to the staff and they felt the same way about their first trip away from their parents. They were very supportive of me. I got more comfortable in Japan thanks to them talking to me and being there for me. Personally my favorite activity to do was go to the arcade. For me playing games helps me get comfortable and bond with people. We played Mario kart I don’t know how many times. We made prayers at the shrines together. We had meals and talked about random stuff. When the two week ended we had to say good bye. It was really heartbreaking to see the staff tearing up to see someone they cared for go away. We did feel like a family in a weird way. So by the end of this three week trip I learned how to deal with roommates, how to not get embarrassed or nervous while talking to people, to learn the basics rules of photography and how to use the Manual setting, to speak the Japanese language, and to be confident in myself. This trip gave me a lot of confidence in who I am. I’m sad to leave the staff that taught me so much I will always remember them as teachers and as friends who were there for me. Thank you :) .

What would you improve about this program?
This is an amazing program. I had the best time. Would not change a thing.


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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Steven Gottsacker

Job Title
Osaka Program Director

Steven graduated from Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota with two Bachelor's Degrees in Spanish and Global Studies (Asian Studies Option), and a minor in Japanese. He is currently working on his Master's Degree in International Development through Saint Mary's University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and has toured Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Akita, and Sapporo in Japan.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory is visiting Osaka, Japan. The culture there is so unique compared to Tokyo, where everything is busy. Osaka has a very rich history which includes castles, gardens, and native food. It also hosts citizens who are very affable and willing to converse with you. There was so much to see!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Since joining this company, I have learned more about how countries like Japan have developed economically, socially, and politically, putting them at the center of the world's stage. Using it as a model, I have a far better understanding of where other countries fit in the development process. With that, I can inform others of cultural differences and progress.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Some of the students who traveled to Japan loved the culture so much that they wanted to be integrated as much as possible. Even though they were Western and found it hard to assimilate, they did not let that stop them from speaking the language or practicing the lifestyle. I love the enthusiasm! It is very infectious and admirable.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would have to say travelling to Spain. Although I have practiced Spanish for over ten years, I still have not visited a country that speaks Spanish. Spain has a rich and fascinating history that I would love to know on a deeper level. I know a lot about it from studying in my classes, but would love to experience it in person.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

One of the things that makes this company unique is its ambition. Our CEO, Derek Tano, has such a strong vision and entrepreneurial spirit that reflects his bold determination. He seized upon an idea that others have tried, but have done poorly in execution. Although very young, we have experience! I do not think that our desire is to be underestimated!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I believe the biggest factor is perseverance and support for one another. We are just starting out as an organization and we are all very passionate about our respective roles. It helps that we are, for the most part, familiar with each other, but we could easily get swept up without staying focused. It can be difficult when there are so many things to do in so short a time!