70 families showing early interest for 2023 European trip

According to CAPS teacher Chris Woods, who is also hosting a trip to Europe in the summer of 2023, “I think there’s something to be said for stepping out of your comfort zone, even in your community, but when you do that in a different nation, you really realize that you’re a smaller part in an even bigger puzzle. You gain an appreciation for the different culture and the different food, and then you do realize that you can’t take for granted what you do have. And ultimately, you know, they’re gonna be in Italy, so it’ll be fun too.”

Wood and fellow counselor Andrew Eisenman are planning a trip to Rome, Naples and Berlin—exclusively for CFHS students. 

“Mr. Eisenman started planning something about a year and a half ago, and I didn’t really know about it, and then I got reached out to by this company that has an alumni from Cedar Falls. She was like ‘Cedar Falls has to have something like this,’ and she kinda like pushed us into this corner of like ‘East has one, and West has one. How do you not?’ and then of, course, CF people are like ‘Well, now we have to have one if they have one.’”

Last November, Eisenman and Wood hosted an informational meeting for CF students and parents to learn more about this opportunity. Wood said, “We were like, ‘Maybe we could get like 30 or 40 parents to show up,’ and we had like 300 people show up, so it was fantastic turnout.” 

As of early December, over 70 students had signed up to attend the trip—almost three times as many as was originally planned. Although they won’t know a “for sure” number until at least February, this is an estimate of how many students will be attending. 

Eisenman said, “Students on this trip are going to have the chance to tour Rome, Naples, Pompei and Berlin, as well as take part in the Global Leadership Summit. The tentative plan is to tour places like the Roman Colosseum, the Vatican and the ruins of Pompei. The most exciting part of the trip will be the Global Leadership Summit. CFHS students will have the chance to collaborate with students from other states on projects and ideas all centered on the idea of ‘Creating a Sustainable Future.”

Wood said, “Seeing something bigger than yourself helps you figure out how to be a better leader in your community beyond high school. We’re going to Berlin. We’re gonna hear from some famous people, like you’re gonna be able to interact with people who are from different cultures and different countries. You’re gonna have to collaborate and come up with a solution to a problem and then pitch that back to like a massive audience, which is gonna be super scary, but I’m super excited because the only way you get better at things is failing at them, and then you have the chance if your prototype is picked to be in like the Nobel Prize Museum, which is just like radical to me.”

To provide students with the chance for a reasonably priced, two-week trip to Italy and Germany, counselors Eisenman and Wood partnered up with EF Tours. 

Wood said, “I started thinking about it, and I’m like, you know, I didn’t have the opportunity to study abroad in high school and couldn’t afford to in college. I was talking to my wife about how you just experience so much difference, and I think there’s so much value in seeing that like, you’re just a small speck in the world, so it was really cool to think about that. The nice thing about that is, yes, it’ll be crazy and, yes, it’s a lot of CF people, but we won’t have to share tour guides with anybody. It’s like we have everything personalized to us—it’s focused on us. It’s gonna be nuts to fly with like a group of 70 people.”

While students still have a while to wait until the trip in July 2023, the excitement of future trips just like it is building between Wood and Eisenman.  

“Honestly, the benefits to this are endless,” Eisenman said. “This (and hopefully future) trips will expose students to the needs of the changing landscape of careers, education and the skills employers are looking for. It’s a unique chance for students to step out of their comfort zone to build resiliency, communication skills and global competency to name a few. There’s also the invaluable opportunity for CFHS students to work with students from different backgrounds and walks of life.”

“I would say, yeah, 100%,” Wood said. “I think now after Andrew and I saw the need for opportunities like this, we will absolutely run another tour. And, hopefully, we would have some other educators that would be interested in doing other tours so we can offer some other options and locations. I would love to go anywhere in Asia. I think that would be fascinating. South America would be amazing. We started with Europe because Europe’s kind of a safe bet, but now that we realize there’s such a demand for it, I think we could spread our wings a little bit. There’s so many places in the world, and I think naturally, people from America just travel to Europe because they have similar cultures, but I think if you really want to go outside your comfort zone you should go to a more impoverished country. It’s a totally different experience.”

To learn more about this experience or get involved in this opportunity, contact Eisenman or Wood in the high school counseling office.

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