Being a GO Leader on tour means being able to share the experience of watching students connect history to their present lives. But it also means being able to see, in such a short amount of time, the students grow as individuals. For me, these moments can be the most meaningful ones that give me an appreciation of why I am there in the first place. Our trips leave a lasting impact on the students that is beyond the historical and educational value.
On one of my last trips of the season, I was with a wonderful group of middle school students in Washington DC. After a successful day of seeing some of the famous monuments and memorials we headed over to Magill’s buffet for dinner. Magill’s is always a trip favorite because it has a small arcade in the back where the students enjoy playing games after dinner. I was relaxing at a table with the chaperones after we finished our meal, watching the kids have a fantastic time with each other. All of a sudden there was a loud commotion around one of the games and the lights on the machine were flashing wildly. One student ran over to our table and exclaimed excitedly that another student had hit the “jack pot” and won 1,000 tickets. When the student left to go back to the group that was surrounding the winning student, one of the chaperones said to us out of all the students who could’ve won they were glad it was this particular student. When I asked why, the chaperone explained that this student had recently moved to their town and hadn’t made a lot of friends yet. If anyone needed a victory, it was him. Knowing this information, I couldn’t stop myself from beaming too as I watched his classmates cheering him and giving him high fives.
When we had all boarded the motor coach, ready to go back to the hotel, I grabbed the microphone and asked for a round of applause for this superstar student. All of the students and chaperones erupted into cheers. For the rest of the trip this student was completely different than the boy I had introduced myself to on the bus. He was opening up more to his classmates and his smile never left his face. When the group dropped me off at the airport on the final day I said my good-byes to the group knowing that at least for one student, this trip would never be forgotten.