Celebrating 50 Years of Showing Student and Youth Groups the World | (800) 323-6439


In the late 1960s, Jack Golen was a history and geography teacher at Austin High School in Chicago, Illinois. Wanting to make a lasting impression on his students, he decided to take his class to visit Washington, D.C.—and realized that his students were not only having fun, but also learning as classroom curriculum came to life. Jack started Hemisphere Educational Travel just one year later.

Why did you start Hemisphere Educational Travel?

I’ve always had a very deep passion to travel, and I wanted the students in my classes to be global citizens. I spent all of my free time on pay phones in the school hallways planning tours for my school and other groups (formed by friends who were teachers from other schools).

How are you involved with Hemisphere Educational Travel today? What is your favorite part about your job?

In addition to overseeing the whole company, I’m in charge of the air department. I call the airlines and negotiate the airfares for student groups. I love to go to the airport with local student groups and see kids get off the bus, ready to experience the world. I’m also working with a great staff.

Why do you believe student travel is important?

We want to take learning on the road. Get kids out of the classroom. A lot of these kids have never traveled before. A lot of these kids come from small towns and have never been on an airplane before. That’s exciting to see. 

What’s your favorite memory from traveling?

A hot air balloon ride in Tanzania. My wife and I also like taking our grandkids on trips. We like to bond with them and show them the world.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten while traveling?

Steak on the grill in Argentina. Whenever I travel, I like to eat the local cuisine.

If you were stranded in an airport, what three things would you want with you?

  1. Phone
  2. Computer
  3. Headphones

If you could run into anyone famous—fictional or nonfictional, historical or mythical—during travel, whom would you want to run into? Why?

Anthony Bourdain, may he rest in peace. I’d like to be like he was. I liked his approach to traveling to different countries sampling the food.

What’s one thing you would recommend every student group do while traveling?

Immerse themselves in the local language and culture. I want students to be able to converse—or try to converse—with the local people and to meet students from other cities and countries.

What destination on your bucket list do you most want to visit, and why?

I’ve been to Africa twice, and I want to go back. I’ve been to South Africa and Tanzania, and I’d like to go to Kenya. I also want to go back to Cuba. My next trip will be to Dubai.

What do you love about travel?

There are so many countries to visit, and each one is completely different from the other.

Written by Hemisphere Educational Travel