By Maya Lewis ’18
Want to “snuba” in Belize or attend a cooking class in Rome? Then look no further than Pandas Explore, Immaculate Heart’s travel enrichment program that now offers students more tours to international destinations than ever before.
Immaculate Heart teachers have organized trips with EF Tours for the past eight years, including to Paris, France, and Barcelona, Spain. Then, last spring, IH Principal Naemah Morris thought it best to organize all school trips under the umbrella of a new program called Pandas Explore. If you go to the onCampus Resource page titled Pandas Explore, you can see all of the new and exciting trips currently planned.
For this school year, there is the Close Up program in Washington, D.C., the East Coast College tour, the Catalina Experience, and a Broadway and Metro Arts Tour organized by Heather Chesley for Spring Break. There are also three international trips on tap in 2018:
Japan over Spring Break led by Callie Webb, and, in June, the Dominican Republic (with service learning) led by Megan Reeves and the Central Europe tour led by Qiana Medellin. Trips for the 2018-2019 have also just been announced: Rome, Italy, over Spring Break 2019, also led by Ms. Webb, and Belize in June 2019, led by Lisa Hellinger.Students can also view a four-year plan of Pandas Explore trips by going to the IH website, looking for the homepage’s ‘Student Life’ section at the top, and then clicking on Pandas Explore.
Ms. Webb, along with the rest of the IH school community, greatly supports these thrilling opportunities. “I think it’s great that the school has organized all planned travel under the Pandas Explore program,” the English teacher states. “This is a handy way for students to see what trips are scheduled during the next four years. They can then decide which trip best fits their interests and their budget and then take advantage of low monthly payments. It’s the school’s hope that all students can plan and participate in at least one trip during their four years here.”
Next spring, Ms. Webb will lead the EF Tours trip to Japan with more than 30 students. While this is Ms. Webb’s first venture to Japan, this is not her first outing as an EF group leader. “I most recently led a trip to Dublin, London and Paris,” she shares. “Before that I led a trip to Switzerland, Italy and France. I have also chaperoned a trip to Paris and London.”
Those going on the EF tours are buzzing with excitement as they look forward to exploring beyond Los Angeles and making fond memories with their classmates. This irreplaceable opportunity is something Immaculate Heart is proud to provide so that students are able to look back on their high school experience and recall their days visiting another country with a unique language, culture, history, and trends.
Ms. Webb is also ready to have plenty of memories to reminisce about after her upcoming trip this year. “What I look forward to most about these trips is helping students make the most of an enriching experience,” she says. “Organizing a tour is not that different from planning a dream lesson where all your students get excited about learning and sharing. On these trips, I feel much like I am holding a door open and watching students walk through it into a different world. It is a personal thrill to see their reactions as they learn about different cultures and their unique history. We have a lot of fun!”