JB: You’ve been traveling abroad since an early age. Are there any memories that stick out?
AA:My junior year of high school I traveled to Eritrea with my mother and sisters. Being able to see where my parents grew up, and having that personal connection to the land and the culture was powerful. It put everything in context for me and gave me insight into who my parents were. I discovered a different concept of community while abroad. The vocabulary and the language that people used was so endearing and so familial in comparison to the United States. I remember one occasion when I was walking down the street, and a woman placed a toddler in my arms and said, "Daughter help her cross." I looked at my mother like, "Is this woman crazy?" And, I remember my mother looking at me like it was no big deal. After we'd crossed the street, the child resumed life as if nothing had happened. To me, this embodied the meaning of a safe community and family.
JB: How did the opportunity to take your students abroad happen?
AA: I've had so many positive experiences associated with travel and wanted to share this with my students. In my first year at Simeon, I approached the principal with the proposition to take the kids abroad. He loved the idea. I identified a company called Education First Tours with good reviews and started the process. While I personally found Central American locations like Honduras more appealing, I knew we'd need to get the kids attention with places they were familiar with. We selected Paris and Barcelona as they provided students studying French and Spanish with the opportunity to experience these respective cultures.