Charlestown High School EuroTrip Club
Organized by: Henry Mahegan
Since 2006, Charlestown High School has facilitated an overseas trip to Europe in the late spring. The trip originated as way to supplement the studies of students enrolled in World History and AP European History classes, and to allow students to experience the thrill of standing at the sites they’ve only read about in books. Educational tours allow students to enrich their classroom learning through international travel. Students can “learn it by living it” when they experience firsthand the very best historic, cultural, and natural sights in the world. The CHS EuroTrip Club is open to every graduating senior. We do not believe that international travel is a privilege reserved for our most skilled students, it should rather be open to students who are enrolled not only in AP classes, but also in honors and regular college prep courses. The students who sign up for EuroTrip do so in September, and then spend the entire year participating in a number of fundraising events. Through this yearlong effort they feel a real sense of investment in the trip. Part of Charlestown High School’s mission is to help students maintain a global perspective. We want our students to understand other cultures and how societies develop, function and govern themselves, respect diversity, recognize issues that transcend geographic and political boundaries, appreciate historical patterns, see the effects of American culture on other societies, and apply historical learning to an understanding of the present. International trips help us accomplish this mission as well as provide a lifetime of positive memories. Over the years, we have discovered that the way we run our trip not only fosters a deeper global understanding as envisaged by the mission statement of CHS; it also builds perseverance in the face of what appears to be an impossible fundraising task, as well as a knowledge of how to plan and execute a trip that students can take with them into their adult lives. We do not use a tour company. Once we have done the bulk of our fundraising, we tell the students what airfare we can afford and they then choose a destination. The chaperones pick safe hostel accommodations and tell the students what the daily budget is, and the students do the rest. Our April and May meetings are dedicated to planning the trip. Each student pair gets a day, and with guidebooks and maps, plan out what we will do. They have to factor in the cost of meals and activities, transportation and time constraints. Our only restrictions are that they have to do one educational activity each day, and it has to be safe. In short, our goal is not just to expose students to some of the great arts and sites of the world, but also to teach them how to travel. We want students to learn how to plan and budget a trip so they see that lifelong travel is a possibility, even when they are not from a family of means. We are happy to report that many of our former travelers have completed semesters abroad in college as well as traveled and worked abroad on their own after college.