Wandering Educators: An Interview With Jessie Voigts

Written by Jennifer Miller on Aug 7th, 2012 | Filed under: Education, Travel

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Jessie Voigts is the brains behind the website Wandering Educators. We’ve long been followers of her work and supporters of her vision for education and travel for all children.

This past spring our daughter took part in her Travel Blogging Mentorship program and we were impressed beyond measure.

I wanted to take the time to present Jessie and her vision to all of you as well. If you have teenagers who would benefit from the mentorship program that she offers (completely for free) don’t hesitate for a second!

Without further ado: Jessie, in her own words:

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

My 10 year old daughter and I are mermaids. We live on a lake, travel to where there are lakes/oceans, and can’t stand to be away from water. Obviously, this totally impacts where we go in the world. That said, we love to slow travel, living like locals wherever we go. My husband goes along with us – he loves to explore different cultures as much as we do – he just mostly stays on land!

It helps that our work is also related to travel – we publish a travel library for people curious about the world, Wandering Educators. We also founded the Family Travel Bloggers Association, and publish several other sites, including JourneyToScotland.com, and our daughter’s site, LilliesSuitcase.com. It’s amazing to live in this globally connected world, where we can live and work wherever we want (and where there is good internet!). I have a Phd in international education; Ed has long been a successful marketing consultant for small businesses, and we are both bestselling authors.

Our family is a big proponent of unschooling – we can see firsthand the joy and zest for life and learning that this can bring to a family. We have been speakers for the last five years at the Unschoolers Waterpark Gathering (http://www.unschoolerswaterparkgathering.com/), held each February in Sandusky, Ohio. It’s pure joy to be around other families that celebrate freedom and love learning.

2. Can you explain what Wandering Educators is and your vision?

Wandering Educators is a travel library for people curious about the world. It’s so much fun – we started in 2007, and have grown each year. We have over 35 editors from around the world, and countless members, writing about their travels, learning, food, restaurants, photos, and more. We also share quite a lot of travel resources. Our vision is to continue to share and promote travel and intercultural learning with as many people as possible.

3. Tell us a bit about your Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program – What are you trying to achieve with it?

This program helps equip youth with an interest in travel writing, to develop their skills and create a foundation for living powerful and productive lives. Partnering with various media professionals and instructors, this program can help them get on their feet in the realm of social media, blogging, and content creation. We want to set them free to change the world in powerfully positive ways.

I have to say, I LOVE these teens – their sense of humor, teaching them, and learning of their worldviews. They are incredible, and have expanded our world so much. This is one of the best (and most fun) things I’ve ever done.

We just finished the first term of this program, which included faculty from around the world, teaching about travel writing, blogging, photography and videography, the importance of international experiences, social media, connecting with others, SEO, and more.

We’re going to be publishing a kindle book with the best of the students’ writing each term, so that they will be published authors. Each week, they complete an assignment, which is published on Wandering Educators. This helps build their online portfolio.

4. What kind of kids are you looking for to apply to the program?

They don’t need to be world travelers, but they SHOULD be very curious and avid explorers. You don’t need to travel to be a travel writer – you can write well about your own town and share with people that come to visit. We are looking for students that are committed to learning, can handle weekly classes and assignments, and love to learn.

If any teens are interested, please read all the information here, and then send along a letter of intent:

http://www.wanderingeducators.com/intercultural-education/resources/wandering-educators-youth-travel-blogging-mentorship-program.html

5. I think it’s awesome that it’s completely free, I’m a big believer in giving freely to the world, especially our youth, how is that possible with the depth of content you provide. How are you keeping it free? Will that change in the future?

We are committed to keeping this free for our students – and to that end, are looking for companies to partner with that can help us teach good global citizens – interculturalists that love to explore and share the world.

6. What are your top three pieces of advice for families who want to educate differently, based on your professional experience?

1. Provide an environment that cherishes learning and exploring the world.

If you can’t travel, bring the world to you by incorporating resources (food, books, movies, etc.) home. You can get our kindle book, Bringing the World Home: A Resource Guide to Raising Intercultural Kids, at http://amzn.to/xxJBQh. I’ve set a special promotion up for readers of Uncommon Childhood, where you can get it for free on these dates August 7-10.

2. Stay strong.

As you know, there are a million critics and never enough supporters. Believe in your path, and follow it happily. Once they see how happy your family is, how your kids thrive, they might be happy with your choices. But they may never do so. Stick to what you feel is right, for YOUR family.

3. The world is changing rapidly – teach your kids that change is both inevitable and exciting.

If they are able to roll with all the changes that the future will surely bring, they will succeed at whatever they put their minds to. I’ve seen so many families follow the old model of preparing for one job for their lifetime. That doesn’t happen anymore, and will surely cripple them in the future. The people we interact with on a daily basis are no longer the people in close proximity to us – our neighbors are now global. How we live, work, learn, and play are all affected by the global transformation of society.

7. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

We have a new book out, The Philippines: 100 Travel Tips, that we’re very proud of, co-written with an insider – a Filipina that is heavily involved in the tourism industry in the Philippines. It’s also full of incredible photographs, taken by Filipino photographers, of the things they love most about their country. It’s a must-have guide for anyone traveling to the Philippines. amzn.to/PhTravelTips

We also are working with 10 authors to produce a whole series of books on Moving to Southeast Asia – look for those to roll out in the next few months. If you’d like to sign up for the mailing list for advance information, head here: http://www.wanderingeducators.com/southeast-asia/moving-southeast-asia/definitive-guide-southeast-asia.html

One of my overarching passions in life is study and work abroad. I have worked in study abroad, and feel that giving students the chance to experience the world – by themselves – is an extraordinary way to bring about internationalization in very personal ways. I am also very passionate about accessible travel, since I have several disabilities that impact the way I experience the world. But mostly, I long for a world of interested, intelligent people, curious about others and eager to explore and change the world.

 

If you are as intrigued as we were I know you’ll want to follow Jessie. She can be contacted and followed through the following links:

http://www.WanderingEducators.com

http://www.Facebook.com/WanderingEducators

http://twitter.com/WanderingEds

http://gplus.to/WanderingEducatorscom

About Jennifer Miller

Jennifer Miller has written 86 post in this blog.

Married to my knight in shining armor, Mama to the fabulous four, I must write to breathe. I'm homeless by choice, a nomad by birth and am most at home sleeping my tent, shopping in the souqs of North Africa and wandering the highlands of Guatemala. My life is an "edventure!"