High school juniors offered unique travel opportunity

High school juniors offered unique travel opportunity
By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
Trippin’ out.
For earlier generations, that may have meant a psychedelic journey facilitated by a mind-bending array of pharmaceuticals.
For several members of the Class of 2013 at high schools in Obion County, it will mean travel, as well. But this time, the free, legal, safe and exciting trip will be a mind-expanding, opportunity-enhancing, relationship-building, knowledge-developing excursion to four European countries. London, Paris, Lucerne, Venice and Rome are all cities on the itinerary for the 13-day adventure, which will begin June 26 and end July 8.
Union City Rotary Club is offering the opportunity for the fourth time and students will be repeating the St. Paul’s to St. Peter’s tour offered by Cosmos Travel that the Class of 2011 and the Class of 2012 enjoyed at the close of their junior years. The first group of travelers had a slightly different European travel opportunity.
Mary Hellen Johnson, a Union City Middle School teacher, and her husband, David, will be returning as chaperones for the trip, with a year of experience under their belts as last summer’s guides. Travel One in Union City is booking the trip and the Rotary Club is picking up the tab.
Students who are juniors at Union City, Obion County Central and South Fulton high schools must attend one of two orientation sessions with at least one of their parents or guardians to find out details about the trip and receive an application.
There will be no exceptions to this prerequisite, since it is vital for both the student and their parents to understand the details surrounding the cost-free trip of a lifetime, a spokesman said.
The orientation sessions have already been publicized at the schools for members of the Class of 2013 — the only age group of students considered for the trip — and families who are interested should be aware of the dates: 7 p.m. Thursday Nov. 10 and 2 p.m. Sunday Nov. 20. Both sessions will take place in the family life center at Union City First United Methodist Church at 420 East Main St. Parking will be available in the lot behind the sanctuary on South Ury Street.
The meeting, which will include a brief review in video of last year’s trip and the opportunity to hear from some students who were included, will focus on the itinerary, guidelines for the selection of students, responsibilities of the students, the introduction of the chaperones and responses to students’ and parents’ questions about the trip. Applications will be handed out at the end of the sessions, which will last 1 1/2-2 hours.
When applications are returned to the school counselors, along with required financial forms from their families, the students who have completed these initial requirements will be interviewed individually by members of the Rotary Club trip selection committee.
Families must agree to provide financial information like that required to apply for college scholarships, since the Rotary Club’s commitment is to finance the trip only for those students who would not otherwise be able to afford it.
In the past, students and their chaperones have left Union City in a bus provided by Union City School System and journeyed to the airport in Memphis to board a connecting flight for overnight travel to London. After two nights in that city, they have continued by special tour bus to Paris for two more nights, on to Lucerne in Switzerland and then into Italy, where they have made more overnight stops before closing out the adventure with two nights in Rome. The return air trip has brought them back to the United States, where they have made a connecting flight back to Memphis and have been picked up by bus and deposited on home soil on a Sunday night.
Trip planners are hoping to be able to offer the same trip and the same plans this year, although prices have risen dramatically.
Included in the expenses the Rotary Club covers are:
• cost of a passport
• cost of all travel by bus, plane, tour bus and within cities;
• cost of the Cosmos tour;
• cost of meals not provided on the tour;
• trip insurance;
• taxes and gratuities;
• “extra” adventures offered beyond the regular tour package
The Rotary Club also provides matching backpacks for carry-on luggage, matching shirts with Rotary Club emblems to wear while traveling by plane, luggage tags and trip journals.
Students must cover the cost of their own snacks and beverages outside of the covered meals or any food-related expense beyond the budgeted amounts and the cost of souvenirs.
Students selected for the trip must also agree to attend a minimum of four study sessions with the chaperones, their fellow travelers and special trip advisors who will help them understand the cultures, the monetary systems, some basic language, history, travel safety and travel etiquette, art and architecture. The students will also be expected to do research on the countries they will be visiting and help plan the activities the group will enjoy in each city, based on that effort.
“Union City Rotary Club offers an amazing opportunity for these students that begins long before they leave home as they start to explore the places they will visit. Then the benefits of the trip continue for a lifetime. So the travel itself, while a wonderful adventure, is not the whole story,” says Clay Woods, who has been part of the trip planning committee from the beginning.
“We look forward to meeting the students and their families who are interested in this trip and we hope to have many wonderful applicants,” said Dr. Leland Davis, also a trip committee member.
For more information, contact Glenda Caudle at 885-0744 during the day or speak to the school counselor.
“We want to stress again that the junior students and at least one of their parents or guardians must attend at least one complete orientation session,” Woods said. “The information provided there is so important that we simply can’t allow anyone to apply for the trip if they haven’t learned first-hand not only what they will be enjoying but also what they will be contributing.”
Mrs. Caudle may be contacted at glendacaudle @ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 11.3.11

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