The Traveler’s Tales: Experiences from Abroad

From Lincoln to Le Tour Eiffel: High School Students Abroad

Lincoln Public Schools French teachers Will West, Sasha Van Zandt, and Kristen Tangen organized a trip to France for 22 students in March 2019. LPS has offered travel abroad for 50 years. The commitment to this experience remains strong as plans for a trip to France in 2020 continue.

LPS Teachers leaders Sasha Van Zandt, Kristen Tangen, Will West

LPS Teachers leaders Sasha Van Zandt, Kristen Tangen, Will West.

What was your itinerary? We spent 5 days in Evreux, France for a family stay, and 3 days in Paris, visiting many sites and monuments.
Describe how this affected your understanding of the language. The LPS-sponsored trips have always included a family stay, because the main purpose has been for students to have that immersion experience where they are living with a family, practicing their language, making connections, experiencing what it’s like to go to school, hanging with their host sibling and his/her friends, etc. I feel their understanding of the language grows immensely…they find it frustrating, joyful, funny, embarrassing, thought-provoking, and educational! Students are often very nervous about the family stay, and yet many tell us afterwards that it was their favorite part and that they learned the most during that time.
What was your most unexpected surprise? I think the most unexpected or surprising benefit to students is how much they grow in their independence, self-knowledge, and desire to travel again in the future
What travel service did you use? LPS has traveled with ISE/Xperitas for many years (I think 40+ years), in part because this company offers a family stay experience.

From Crete to Costa Rica: High School Students Abroad

Spanish teacher Angela Wagoner organized and led a trip to Costa Rica in early June 2019 with her students at Crete High School.

What was the purpose of your travel? Student experience – they did some tourist travel and also did a short homestay with a family and took classes at a language academy.
Describe how this affected your students’ language growth. This is my third personal experience with Costa Rican Language Academy (CRLA) and their homestay and language program. It is rejuvenating to be immersed in Spanish each day. I feel my proficiency increasing as I am there and remembering things about the language and culture I feel I have forgotten or that do not stick when I am in the States.
What was your most unexpected surprise? How much the students immersed themselves in the culture. On the very first day in San José, multiple students went with their host families and did cultural experiences such as church, playing soccer/basketball with groups of people, and really just immersing themselves in the experience.
What travel service did you use? We used a mix of Explorica and the Costa Rican Language Academy (CRLA) services. For our next trip we will just be using CRLA – it is much cheaper and much more personalized experience.

From Kearney to A Coruña: Summer Study for College Students

Associate Professor of Spanish and Graduate Program Chair Dr. Michelle Warren organized and accompanied ten University of Nebraska Kearney students to La Universidad da Coruña, A Coruña, Spain during the month of June 2019.

A Coruna with UNK Students

UNK students with Dr. Michelle Warren at the Tower of Hercules in A Coruna.

What was the purpose of your travel? Students worked on their linguistic and cultural fluency.
Describe how students interacted with the community. Students lived with local families and attended classes at the University of A Coruña. They also participated in city and area excursions, ate tons of delicious local food (including octopus!), and enjoyed time on the coast.
What was the most unexpected surprise? While almost all of our students came to the program fluent in Spanish, none of them had ever spent time in Spain. Their biggest surprise was learning about regional differences between Latin America and Spain and cultural differences between Galicia and Spain. A Coruña is located in the autonomous province of Galicia.
What travel service did you use? Dr. Michelle Warren organized the trip in cooperation with the Universidad da Coruña and a local agency, Ad Astra, which provided housing. For more information or to reserve your spot on next year’s trip, email Dr. Warren at

From Lincoln to La-Point-Du-Bout: Professional Development in Martinique

Lincoln Public Schools French teachers Lisa Maupin and Sasha Van Zandt traveled to the International Conference in La-Pointe-du-Bout, Martinique, sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) in July 2018. Maupin and Van Zandt presented a session entitled “Reaching Each Student Through Learning Stations, Technology and Authentic Resources”. They had the opportunity to learn about Martinique’s history, French colonization, the long-lasting effects of the slave trade in the French West Indies, the Creole language, culture and cuisine.

Lisa Maupin and Sasha Van Zandt with Catherine Daniélou, President of AATF (American Association of Teachers of French)

Lisa Maupin and Sasha Van Zandt with Catherine Daniélou, President of AATF (American Association of Teachers of French)

How did this experience impact you and your teaching?
“We have learned a wealth of information from our trip, not only within the sessions themselves and on the excursions, but through the everyday exposure to the people and culture of Martinique. Partaking of the food, hearing the language, seeing and smelling the flowers, walking the streets, shopping the markets – all of this is a treasure trove for a language teacher. The aggregate of these experiences is now brought back to the classroom and transformed how we teach, exposing in turn our own students to a rich and vital part of the francophone world” – Lisa Maupin

“It’s these kinds of experiences that continue to keep our flames and passion for teaching lit and allow us to keep our classrooms alive and connected. Learning that Martinique is a part of France, drawing connections between slavery in the US and slavery in Martinique, checking that Napoleon was really that short, finding out how much older Josephine was than Napoleon before they changed their birth dates, learning that 1 in 5 people are unemployed, or traveling virtually by mapping out flights and a hotel stay–these are small steps to becoming stronger global citizens, one of the main skillsets that a language teacher wants to develop in their students.” – Sasha Van Zandt