A mobile classroom introduces kids to cultures and career opportunities.
By MARALINE KUBIK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
POLAND -- It may seem like the world's getting smaller, but the places to visit, foods to try and cultures to experience are limitless. So are the jobs associated with the travel industry.
More than 300 elementary school children were introduced to the travel industry during a visit to the Hogan Family Foundation Inc.'s Travel and Tourism Mobile Classroom May 1 at Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Poland.
The pupils, in grades three, four and five, learned about different cultures, languages and geography.
"I learned that in different places there are different things from here," said Kyle Young, a 9-year-old third-grader from Poland Union Elementary School. "There's different food and the way you travel is different, like little bikes in China and taxis in France." Although Kyle found learning about exotic places fascinating, he's not too eager to travel far from home. "I just like it here," he said.
Wants to go: Young's classmate, Allison Rice, is just the opposite: She can't wait to travel the world. After visiting the mobile classroom, Allison is eager to visit the Great Wall of China. Next year, she added, her family may visit Greece.
Visiting the mobile classroom wasn't just a fun outing on a beautiful day, said teacher Marsha Walkama. The children learned about geography and different foods, customs and cultures of the world. Although the children have already studied those things in class, she said the opportunity to visit the mobile classroom and revisit those discussion topics in class was too good to pass up.
Discussions: After visiting the mobile classroom, Walkama's class spent much of the afternoon discussing what they learned, filling in the names of states on a map of the United States, and visiting Web sites that offer interactive geography games. A list of suggested Web sites, along with other materials, was furnished by the Hogan Family Foundation.
The Hogan Family Foundation, established by travel industry pioneers Ed and Lynn Hogan, of Westlake Village, Calif., operates educational, humanitarian and civic-minded programs that encourage appreciation of the world and its diversity.
First Ohio stop: The daylong event in Poland was the mobile classroom's first stop in Ohio.
In all, 26 stops in 17 cities across the country are planned through July 24, said Larry Coulson, education coordinator for the mobile classroom. He and his wife, Marianne, spend 10 months a year living on the bus as they crisscross the country, stopping at schools and job fairs, teaching classroom visitors about the travel and tourism industry and related career opportunities.
Travel and tourism "is almost a recession-proof industry," said Julie Costas, marketing coordinator for Carlson Wagonlit Travel. "People used to save for a new washer or refrigerator, now they save for vacations -- everybody needs them." As a result, she noted, demand for travel and travel-related services is growing, fueling demand for travel agents, cruise ship employees, motor coach drivers, tour guides and a slew of other professionals.
The mobile classroom introduces high school and college students, as well as adults looking for work or interested in switching careers, to the wide variety of jobs available, Costas said. If the mobile classroom visits Carlson Wagonlit next year, she added, "I'd like to focus more on bringing kids in from the high schools."
Employment: According to the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), travel and tourism in the United States directly employs more than 7 million workers and employs an additional 10 million indirectly.
Worldwide, the industry employs 262 million workers -- 10 percent of the global work force -- and generates 11 percent of the world's gross domestic product. Because of continuing growth, TIA projects 100 million jobs will be created worldwide in the travel and tourism industry by 2007.