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Student Trip Leader Spotlight: Noémie H., Washington

February 13, 2020 Sarah Bichsel No Comments

Meet one of our amazing student trip leaders, Noémie! She has taken students across France and will be visiting her hometown in Brittany this year.

Tell us a little about yourself! Where do you teach?

I teach French in a high school just south of Seattle. I have been at my school for almost 10 years, and I teach all 4 levels of French, including a UW course.

Did you have any educational travel experience outside of ACIS?

I have only ever traveled with ACIS, and I will never leave! The reason why I started working with the company is simple: a referral. The first teacher I was colleagues with recommended it to me and talked so well about it that I didn’t even bother looking up other companies. After my first successful trip with ACIS, I never looked back, and I am always asking other companies to take me off their mailing lists. Every time I am on a trip, I ask bus drivers and tour managers if they work with other companies and they always rate ACIS as their best employer, and I believe this to be true.

What classroom goals did you have for your trip?

One of the things that I want the most for my group is to not try to see more than a 10-day trip allows. Americans are known to “see Europe” in 2 weeks. As a European, I can tell you this: in 2 weeks you can visit a couple of cities within ONE country, if you have done more, you haven’t seen or experienced anything for real. When I look at an itinerary; 3 cities should be the maximum on our list. What is the point in rushing? Rushing doesn’t allow students to experience the culture, speak with French people, truly see places they are at.

One of the amazing things that ACIS allows student trip leaders to do is to design an itinerary! I started doing this for our 2018 trip and it was perfect! I suggested places to go to and their amazing team put together an itinerary that was beyond perfect. Everything about it was beautiful: the places, the activities, the accommodations, the flow of the trip. ACIS let me suggest another itinerary for our upcoming 2020 trip. and my kids will even get a chance to stop by a high school to meet their French penpals – how cool!

You’ve gone from bringing 12 students to full buses! What suggestions do you have for fundraising and recruitment for a trip?

I start allowing people to sign up for the trip almost 2 years ahead of it, allowing families to plan for their payments. I only allow my own students to go on the trip, and I talk about it very regularly to create interest. I have been lucky that students have been interested so far and that families have trusted me with this. I think they also trust that I am French and know where I am taking their kids!

Which aspect of your trips do you think your students enjoy the most?

Students love seeing the landmarks of Paris they have seen a million times in pictures, but I find that generally students end up liking smaller places more than the big cities. In my past trips, Saint-Malo, La Rochelle, Chamonix (to name just a few) have been favorites. Going to markets, cooking classes and simply interacting with French people tend to be the highlights.

What’s a funny memory you have from your ACIS travels?

The first trip I took that took us to Nice, one night I gave kids free time and when I got back to meet them all at the hotel, I found out 3 of them and a parent were stuck in the big public park, Parc du Mont Boron, which had locked them in! Needless to say this was an interesting night in which my chaperone and I got to ride in a police car and see the national and local cops argue over who was responsible for this. Turns out my students were not the only people ones stuck in the park!

Where would you like to go next?

I organize student trips every other year; in 2022 I would love to do Paris-Lyon-Annecy. I can’t wait to talk to ACIS about this next possible itinerary.

In 15 words or fewer, how would you pitch ACIS?

I would recommend ACIS without a doubt: 2 of my colleagues have joined too!

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Sarah Bichsel

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