ACIS just hosted a Global Conference in Budapest over Thanksgiving weekend. ACIS Regional Directors Tom Heigham and Jeannie Page and ACIS Tour Manager Peter Ede were so excited to welcome group leaders to Europe and thank them for planning a trip.
Tom and I recently chatted about his experience on this ACIS Global Conference.
Tom, I know the answer, but tell me, were you excited to be traveling with teachers again on a global conference?
I was so excited to be able to travel again. It had been way too long! To be honest I was a little nervous going into it, but that’s only because it had been so long and you’d hear so many different stories about what it was like, and that there were some added things to the process. That nervousness quickly flipped to excitement though as soon as I was through customs and ready to board. And once I got to Europe, it felt so good to be back. I really can’t put it into words. At the end of the trip, we all got really emotional about having been able to experience this again. We now know that travel is still possible, and that it’s safe to do it. And most importantly, that it is not only OK, but RIGHT to do it.
I love that. Tell me more about the group. Sounds like you had a bunch of experienced travelers.
Oh my God. They were so amazing! I had known many of them before, so it was really good to see them again. Everyone was so grateful to be back, so appreciative to be traveling again, and so relieved that we survived this pandemic. Many people commented about how they were worried that we wouldn’t make it and that we feel like part of their family. It was very nice! I got a little teary as I gave the Welcome Speech about their resiliency, their willingness to stick it out with us, and just the feeling of thanks. Perfect that for many of us our first trip was during Thanksgiving.
How was Thanksgiving in Budapest?
It was perfect! The Christmas markets were up. The streets were filled. Lights were everywhere. The city was buzzing. It felt really special to be a part of that.
It all sounds so dreamy. What were some other highlights of the itinerary?
Highlights for me, and many others definitely include the Parliament building, arrival dinner at the famous Hotel New York—stunning!!, the Synagogue visit, Szelciny bath house, I could go on and on.
And you had Peter Ede as a Tour Manager! He definitely adds to the fun.
I don’t think that we could have been in more capable hands for a Central European program. Peter has SO much information to share with us, from the historical perspective, to the cultural, and with a ton of little personal stories and anecdotes interspersed. He’s like a walking encyclopedia. And on top of that, he’s just tons of fun!
And now the question I’m sure everyone’s been asking you, how did Covid impact the trip? Were there any extra restrictions?
It was pretty much the same! Everything was open and has been for a while. We just had to show vaccine cards in a few places, and wear masks on the bus and indoors. Walking around the streets, the only noticeable difference was that a lot of people were masked up. Otherwise, you wouldn’t know that Covid was even a thing.
Anything else you want to share?
It’s clear that vaccines and wearing masks works. And travel is back! It’s OK to board those planes. It’s OK to travel. As long as we are prepared, do it safely, and exercise the flexibility of travel, then the world is ready to have us.