ACIS Group Leader Chris Layson has been traveling for many years, and this past MLK weekend he had the opportunity to attend a Global Conference in Panama. We talked to him about his experience and where he’s hoping to go next!
Tell us a little about yourself!
I am the IB Diploma Program Coordinator and AP World History teacher at The Utica Academy for International Studies in Michigan. This is my 19th year of teaching. My first trip with ACIS was to France in 1993 as a junior in high school.
You’ve traveled with us many times before. What were your expectations going into this particular conference destination?
Experiencing the incredible biodiversity of Panama and the engineering marvel of the Panama Canal is what drew me to this conference. It would also provide for plenty of sun, which we hadn’t seen in months here in Detroit!
Did the conference impact how you envision your future ACIS trips?
I have been fortunate to have experienced many Global Conferences, and it reaffirmed why I always travel with ACIS. The unique itinerary, cultural experiences, fabulous food, and our amazing Tour Manager, Diego, who was part comedian and part professor, made this another unforgettable trip that I will want to experience again with my students!
Share some of your favorite experiences from your time in Panama!
- The food was flavorful and the wine plentiful! ACIS always chooses wonderful venues to not only eat but also meet your fellow travelers.
- I always love the guided city tours. You are able to see so much of the city you are in and the pride your local Tour Manager has for their country is palpable. Pope Francis was arriving in Panama City only a couple days after our trip for World Youth Day so the city was full of energy and excitement. Our Panama City tour ended with the Panama Canal museum and observatory. It is truly a wonder of the world on par with the pyramids and Machu Picchu.
- The highlight of the trip was the visit with the indigenous people in their village. As a social studies teacher, this was a rewarding level of cultural immersion beyond even what I’ve experienced on any of my other trips.
- The guided boat ride of the canal and Lake Gatun was a showstopper! We saw caimans, capybaras, sloths, monkeys, and more! It was incredible to see these animals in their natural environment.
- Our 8-year old’s second grade class was doing their Flat Stanley project. Needless to say, our Flat Stanley had a great trip! He is pictured below with our Tour Manager, Diego.
Picture this: You have enough World Traveler Rewards points to go anywhere you like. Where would you go and why?
This is an easy one! I have traveled to Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa with ACIS. If I had the points, I would be on a plane to Australia tomorrow! Unless… ACIS has an Antarctica itinerary 😊