Education About Asia: Online Archives

Summer Study Tours: Making the Most of a Preeminent Professional Development Opportunity

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By Ronald S. Byrnes

Summer study tours present an unparalleled opportunity for teachers to continue learning about other people and places, to make new friends, to network, to internationalize curricula, and in the end, to rekindle enthusiasm for teaching. I have been privileged to be part of two Asia study tours. In 1997, I spent July in China with six colleagues, compliments of a Freeman Foundation grant. We traveled by bus, train, and plane in Eastern and Central China visiting cities, schools, and historic sites. In 1999, I spent two weeks in Japan with twenty other social studies educators from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia as part of the Keizai Koho Fellowship program. We spent one week in Tokyo visiting businesses and schools, then traveled by bus and bullet train to Hiroshima and Kyoto, where we visited more businesses and schools, completed a home stay, and sang some terrible karaoke. In this paper I turn what I’ve learned on these trips and related international experiences into ten suggestions intended to help educators preparing to participate in study tours make the most of their experiences. I also hope to inspire other readers to seek out and apply for travel opportunities on international summer study tours.