Our WorldStrides Perspectives programs International Travel Specialists are both our ambassadors and our master planners. They’re spreading the word about our travel programs, and then working directly with our teachers to make their trip meet and exceed expectations.

Meet Michael Edelstein, customer champion for 23 years.

Does he call himself a Travel Specialist? Well, maybe, but there’s more…. Michael believes he’s more like a Travel Addict. A former teacher and trip leader himself, he’s been helping other teachers plan trips since 1995.

WorldStrides: The teachers you work with know you as a true believer in what we do. Not just travel in general, but educational travel, specifically. What drives that?

Michael: I think it’s two things: what I’ve seen as a teacher, and what I didn’t see as a student. When I was leading trips with my own students—I know it sounds cliché—the students changed! That’s the simplest way to say it! Before the trip, they did work for my gradebook, but afterward, they did work for the world they’d end up in. As one parent put it, it was like giving them a magic potion. It was like a homework serum! But I was late to the travel game. My first trip abroad was to Kenya, after I graduated from college. It’s crazy to think that I never traveled in high school or college. It would have so enhanced the value of my studies!

WorldStrides: What’s your favorite part of the planning process?

Michael: I really love working with teachers to develop the kind of trip that matches their teaching philosophy and process: Interactive. Student-centered. Meaningful. Just going to the sites—anybody can do that! It’s that next level that I think is a fascinating one.

WorldStrides: Share some pro tips. What’s something you wish teachers knew before they planned their first trip?

Michael: I wish first-time planners knew that leading their trips will be far easier and less threatening than they expect. Just like the teacher specializes in classroom teaching, WorldStrides specializes in making travel a true educational extension of classroom learning. It’s actually a kind of firsthand discovery, anywhere in the world!

Lots of time and thought and attention goes into it. And a huge part of that is collecting the feedback of our teachers and our Tour Directors over the years to fine tune our support of the enrollment process and how we design and run the trips. Teachers sometimes worry about how things will play out. We’re impressed with that kind of concern, because it shows they’re feeling responsible for the kids’ safety, and also that they’re delivering real educational quality to everybody concerned.

WorldStrides: What’s your personal favorite place to visit?

Michael: That’s tough for me, as everywhere is my favorite, but if I have to pick one… Machu Picchu. It exceeds your expectations even if you have high ones. I have a fear of heights, so my heartbeat goes a mile a minute. I’ve been three times and it never gets tiring.

Learn more about our WorldStrides Perspectives programs.