ACIS couldn’t run without the help of our incredible Academic Travel Advisors (ATAs), teachers and travel enthusiasts who help spread the word about our trips across the country. Meeting with fellow teachers and organizing trip opportunities, they are some of our biggest cheerleaders and hardest workers, and they know first hand what matters to someone in the education field. To show you a little more about life as an ATA, we interviewed Beth Marshall, who has been connected to ACIS since she was in High School!
Bonjour! My name is Beth Marshall and I am originally from Ohio, but I have lived in France, North Carolina, California, and now live in Virginia. In college, I majored in French and art, with K-12 certification in both. Currently, when I am not teaching high school French, I enjoy hanging out with my husband and three kids and two dogs. I love reading, gardening, watching foreign films, painting, and planning my next travel experience! 🙂
2. How long have you been working with ACIS?
In 1987, I went on my first plane trip with my high school French teacher, who led a student trip to England and France with ACIS. In 1994, I led my first trip ACIS with my own high school students… and there were over 50 of us! In 2019 I will be leading my 15th trip with ACIS.
3. How did you become an ATA and for those who are unfamiliar with the term, what does the role involve?
I have been an ATA now for three years. Some of the fun things that I have been able to do include meeting with potential teachers to talk about my experiences with ACIS as a group leader, answering questions at interest meetings from parents and potential travelers, being interviewed for webinars and representing ACIS at conferences and receptions. I really enjoy meeting new people and talking about travel, so it is a win-win for me!
4. What do you hope participants will get out of traveling abroad?
It is my hope that participants have a better insight into their roles as global citizens, a chance to “delve in” to historical moments, to practice communicating in another language, and, most importantly, to gain confidence in themselves as world travelers!
5. Are there any stand out moments of student growth from your travels?
I would say any time that I see my students as thrilled as I am to practice their French or to identify an artist when seeing art in a museum I know that I have had an influence on their lives. I also love hearing when my students spend time abroad as adults; it means that they, too, believe in the importance of being an international citizen.
6. What is your favorite memory from traveling with ACIS?
Although there have been many fantastic moments along the way, I would say that I have two…one of the most interesting memories would be hearing that Pope John Paul had fallen seriously ill while we were in Florence, and our bus driver going as quick as possible to Rome so that we could get the Vatican before he passed. We ended up getting to the Vatican in time, and were able to see all the excitement happening as thousands of people stormed the area in front of Saint Peter’s.
The second favorite memory was one year when I was in Paris with students, and we were going to tour Notre Dame and then head to Versailles in the afternoon. Peter Jones, ACIS’ president, was in front of Notre Dame, looking for ACIS backpacks and checking in to make sure that we were enjoying our tour. When we saw him later on in the day, some of my students were concerned, stating that “some crazy British guy was stalking us” – they had no idea that it was the president of the company, ha!
7. Where do you want to go that you haven’t been yet?
My bucket list is very long, but my top three would be Ireland, China, and Australia.
8. Any recommendations for someone who wants to become an ATA?
I would say to continue to travel with ACIS, spread the word on what a quality travel experience that ACIS offers, and to be involved in your community to connect with other potential group leaders.
9. What would your advice be to a student who is nervous about travel?
I would say that traveling with ACIS is a wonderful way to gain confidence with the tremendous support from a team which includes the representatives from ACIS, a tour guide, their own teacher, and their peers. My own daughter traveled on an ACIS trip at 12, and this gave her the confidence to go to Germany herself after graduating high school this past June.
10. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
To anyone who has not traveled before out of the country, I always warn them that upon returning home, they will all want to start planning their next trip, which will be the beginning of an (expensive but wonderful) addiction that they will have the rest of their lives!