Reed City schools OKs travel abroad proposal

Next district overseas trip set for 2023 

The Reed City Area Public Schools board of education approved a study abroad program proposal, which is planning a trip overseas for students and RCAPS families in 2023. (Herald Review photo/Olivia Fellows)

The Reed City Area Public Schools board of education approved a study abroad program proposal, which is planning a trip overseas for students and RCAPS families in 2023. (Herald Review photo/Olivia Fellows)

REED CITY — Reed City school board members recently approved a proposal to continue the district’s study abroad program for 2023.

During a meeting on Oct. 18, one student and staff member highlighted the importance of continuing to provide students with the opportunity to travel abroad.

Tracy Kooiker-Koopman, a teacher and reading specialist at RCAPS, has been working with fellow teacher Kristina Wray to put together a trip for students set for 2023.

Koopman said her own experience in high school traveling abroad opened her eyes to the education that overseas travel can bring to students.

“I grew up in Reed City and I always knew the city inside and out,” Koopman said. “Until I was in high school and I was offered an opportunity to be an exchange student in Brazil. When I went, I basically knew nothing other than that their language was Portuguese, and that the country was in South America. I came away from that trip with the experience of realizing that when you go to other places in the world, it’s so much more than the language.

“You learn about their food, their customs, and how they greet and treat people, and I just came away from it with a zest for traveling and learning about other cultures,” she added. “Fast forward five years, and Katrina asked me to be partners in this program that offers our students and families a chance to travel abroad. So of course, I was absolutely all in, and we’ve been working hard on getting things set.”

During the meeting, Koopman explained the 2023 trip will take students to Amsterdam, Belgium, London and Paris. The trip will invite students as well as any of their family members who are interested in attending.

Some of the highlights would be visiting the Anne Frank house, various villages in the Netherlands, cathedrals, and finally to London and onto Paris to see some destinations there.

Koopman said that due to the pandemic, some trips were pushed back, but they have worked with a company for the 2023 trip with which the price will be a flat rate.

“Every year we take students, but of course with COVID-19 we have had some delays, but we take them to another part of the world and allow them to experience the language and the culture,” Koopman said. “The biggest plus with this is that people come back changed and we’ve had students who say that travel experience is the ultimate best time that they’ve had in their life. They’ve told me it changes who they are and how they look at the world.”

Koopman invited RCAPS senior student Brady Sunderland to speak at the meeting on his experience going overseas with the program in 2018.

During the trip, Sunderland and 48 others traveled to Spain, England, and France over a multiple-day trip, many days taking trains throughout the country.

“When we visited the Eiffel Tower in Paris that was really cool, because you kind of forget that those places are real and people are there every day, and not always a small picture on a screen or in a book,” Sunderland said. “To see it actually in front of you is something so different, and we saw so many cool things each place we went. We also did a lot of things that were for fun that we paid extra for that were really exciting.

“This trip impacted each person involved, from not knowing what to expect to a stomach bug that some of us ended up getting, a lost passport, and countless new interactions that were unexpected,” he added. “Every student and person involved was grateful for the opportunity we were given that summer. It was a wonderful experience that I’m sure we all wish that every student at RCAPS will have the opportunity to take advantage of.”

Koopman said they are in the process of finalizing the details of the trip for 2023 and are looking forward to seeing all of the students and family members who decide to join for the travel adventure.

“We’re looking forward to another good group for our next trip and are happy we’ll be able to provide new memories to a whole new set of people,” Koopman said. “This program really does change lives and we’re looking forward to continuing RCAPS being able to do so.”