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World Class Programs

About

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.

Founded
2016

Reviews

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Melissa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My daughter went on this trip in 2021 to Italy and I could not possibly feel better about recommending this program! There was an excellent combination of education and leisure, and I felt extremely comfortable about her health and safety with the staff members who were with her. They were able to see so many amazing things and the value for what we paid was unparalleled. Could not be more thrilled with this program and will be sending two kids with them next summer! Thank you to Derek and the staff for an amazing experience.

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Jerrianne
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I am a parent of a program participant. My daughter has been home for a little over a week and has not stopped talking about her experience. We had hoped she would have the chance to assert her independence, have a chance to meet some potential friends with a variety of interests and opinions as well as experience a taste of a different culture. Our hopes were spectacularly exceeded. At first, the program may look a bit pricey, but almost everything is included once you are in the host country, including many unique learning opportunities. This is an incredible program and worth every penny.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Do not be hesitant to ask any questions about the program. The people that run it are genuine and interested in giving students an educational, safe and incredible experience.
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SCOTT
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

What a great experience. The staff was world class. The program allowed the students to immerse in the Italian culture. They got to see many parts of Italy. Plus, learn about the country and food. Each student picks two areas to study. This allows them to learn more details about Italy that they want to focus. Being a parent, safety was at the top of my list. The staff answered all safety questions. Plus, the staff has been to Italy many times, so they know what to expect. It helped that they have a person from Italy to help with the program. This was the best experience.

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Jordan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I would definitely consider myself an adventurous person. I love venturing outside of my comfort zone and meeting new people. Being completely candid, the weeks leading up to the program were nerve racking. Good nerves, obviously, but this was the first time I was really genuinely nervous to do something I enjoyed so much; adventuring. Within the first 24 hours, I realized that these nerves were most certainly unwarranted. I was welcomed with open arms not just by staff, but by the students as well. We all instantaneously connected, and I was so excited to start this new journey with all of them. I came on the trip with my main intention being to improve my Italian skills. Not only do I feel 10 times more confident in my Italian, but I've walked away having learned so many lessons. In addition to basically becoming a pro at walking a minimum of 5 miles a day, I've eaten some of the best meals of my life, seen the most breathtaking churches and museums (and I'm not a museum or church person!) and created long lasting friendships with people all across the country. Alluding to the title of my review, I can indeed confirm that I did have the adventure of a lifetime. I was able to not only explore one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but live there for 3 weeks. Whenever my roommates and I were out, we would constantly say, "I want to go home." Not home as in our actual homes back across the ocean, but our "home" in Florence. Some of my best memories were spent in that city, and as I am currently writing this in Rome, I really truly can say that I am "homesick." One of the main takeaways from this trip is also the feeling of having a second family. For 3 weeks, I went from living with 10 strangers, to living with a crazy, caring, energetic, and amazing family. Throughout all the ups and downs, we all had one another's backs, every step of the way. I couldn't be anymore thankful to Derek, Catherine, and World Class Programs for giving me an experience I truly will never forget. As Derek said at the very beginning of the program, "I hope this will be the trip that you tell your kids, and grandkids about," and I truly can't wait for the day I get to do so.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
To enjoy ever single moment. You will not believe how fast time goes by. Cherish it, and I promise it will be one of the best experiences of your life.
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Isabel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I transferred from the Japan program to the Italia program in World Class and the process was quite easy. Miss Katherine was very helpful when I bombarded her with questions concerning the program. I felt quite safe the whole time and still had a ton of fun. I entered into the program with no expectations but I was still blown away. I must say that I have learned quite a bit about myself. Thank you Miss Katherine, Mr. Tano, Miss Abby, and Mr. Vieri. I appreciate you putting up with me and my speed walking.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Have fun, take care, and don’t worry. You will be in good hands. The staff are wonderful.

Programs

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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!