We sat down with Dan Flannery, a tour guide for Hemisphere Educational Travel, to learn more about how he got his start, what he loves about being a guide for students and even his acting career. Check it out!
How did you become a tour guide and how long have you been doing it for?
I always used to say I’d been doing this for around 6-8 years, then would realize it was more like 10. Now, I’m realizing it’s actually more like 15! I was an elementary school teacher right out of college and have taught English and acting for 25 years.
Why are you passionate about student travel?
Because it’s worth so much! I try not to lecture too much on my tours with students and give them time to really enjoy what they’re seeing. I make sure they have the realizations that they’re in the same places all of these historical figures were—walking on the same floorboards as Abraham Lincoln did! I find that students absorb what they’re learning better this way.
What are your favorite attractions/landmarks to share with student groups?
I really relish in living history! I like taking groups to Springfield to see the Old State Capitol, New Salem Village & State Park and Lincoln’s Home. It’s great explaining to students about Lincoln while walking through where his neighbors would have lived. It brings history to a more human level.
In Atlanta, I also love taking students to Morehouse College, where I usually have a current student there join us on the tour to get on the visiting students’ level. Students usually sit listening, spellbound. If I can see a response from them, that makes it worth it.
I’ve heard that you’re an actor when you’re not being a tour guide! Tell us about that.
I came into acting in my 30’s and took classes purely as a hobby, but I ended up really loving it and received lots of encouragement from my teachers and peers. Since then, I’ve worked in commercials, television shows like Chicago Legal and Empire, corporate trainings, some theatre and several films. I’ve even bumped shoulders with names like Nicolas Cage and Sissy Spacek.
What do you like most about working with Hemisphere?
Everything—I mean everything—is in place. They give you everything you need to know and allows you to really focus on making sure the students get the most out of their trip.