Spotlight on John Lionet, WorldStrides Tour Director

WorldStrides tour directors are an essential part of what makes our programs authentic, educational and fun. Part guide, part tour manager, part instructor of Learning through Exploration and Active Participation (LEAP) activities on our international programs, tour directors are the “boots on the ground” working hard to make every student travel experience a positive one. Our tour directors agree – the best way to make learning fun for students is to help them find their personal meanings in the things they see and do while traveling with WorldStrides. We recently caught up our very own John Lionet, and asked him about the techniques and creativity he uses to help students bring their programs to life in personal ways.

First, a little background. Like many of our tour directors, John started out as a teacher himself, making him a natural at making learning (and traveling!) educational and fun. Cut to 10 years later, and John has led WorldStrides trips all over western and central Europe, from Scandinavia to Slovakia. Part teacher, part entertainer, John helps groups find real-life, relatable adventures throughout their tours. John thrives on being hands-on while leading tours. For example, you may find him showing students how to create a human flying buttress (yes, it’s a thing) while on the steps of Carcassonne, France, or cooking up a delicious paella with students in Barcelona.

As expected, catching up with John was, you guessed it – educational and fun!

His favorite part of Europe?
Without hesitation, he tells us it’s the Mediterranean. Why? Because he can teach students about its ultimate impact as the cradle of Western civilization. “All the ancient civilizations that influence us still so greatly today flourished on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea,” he says.

His favorite thing about interacting with students?
It’s the impact it has on student and himself. “What I love most is the fact that the students I work with get me to see the world through fresh eyes. They challenge me to look at things differently. When I can help them open their minds and really give their curiosity free rein, we both learn together.”

His favorite impromptu activities?
Remember all that fun we mentioned? John enjoys getting students to participate in things like scavenger hunts, creating tableaux out of works of art, and really anything that gets them to actively explore and make new connections. John also tries to get students to interact with local young people, something he finds often ends up being their favorite memory of their trip.

Final words from John?
“Young people need to have their eyes opened to the world around them, they need to be self-reliant, to learn that their way is not the only way – and to accept those differences. TRAVEL DOES THAT!”

Students see John as an inspiration and a friend. As with all our tour directors, he’s there for them 24/7, with answers to their questions large or small, and ensures they always feel safe and at home. Teachers love working with John because he is inclusive and makes educational travel exciting.

Feeling inspired after reading about just one of our many incredible tour directors? Check out our international programs.

Article written by Ellen Sewell

Ellen Sewell
Ellen’s background is in digital marketing, and she has a passion for travel and experiencing new places. When she’s not scrolling behind the screen sourcing content, Ellen enjoys spending time with her husband, son and golden retriever.