Ashley Williams, an educational account executive for Hemisphere Educational Travel, works with schools to help plan student tours that complement their curriculum.
What is your favorite part about your job?
I love being able to get ideas off the ground and help student groups travel. It is so important to get students out of their everyday, to actively learn and experience in outside destinations. It can sometimes be a daunting task to get a trip going.
I enjoy helping make the planning process easier on teachers. I know these trips are not always at the forefront of their priorities, and it’s nice that I can keep the trip moving in the background and take care of the logistical aspects—so once they are in destination, they can focus on the purpose of the trip: education.
Where is your favorite destination?
I work primarily with the Washington, D.C. market. Therefore, I am a little biased. Since starting with Hemisphere, I have had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of Washington, D.C. It’s a unique experience to know more about a city you’ve never lived in, than one you have lived in your entire life. I enjoy being able to share Washington, D.C.’s rich history with student groups.
What’s your favorite travel memory from when you were a student?
In school, the big trip was going to Camp Tecumseh. It was the first overnight trip in school, and we stayed in cabins! While at camp, we had a high school counselor as our teacher for three days and a booklet with the various lesson plans and homework. The counselor led the group to different areas of camp and taught the lesson plans in the booklet that related to the specific area. There was a velocity lesson down a large slide, animal habitats in the creek, soil makeup in various locations, plant identification, journal entries about the surroundings and more.
It was incredible to learn about things—usually taught in the classroom—at the location they were actually happening. I don’t remember the microorganisms we found in the creek by name, but I will always remember how impactful learning in destination is.
What’s your most prized travel souvenir?
Memories are my most prized souvenirs. You learn and experience so much from traveling, and the memories you take home help inspire you to travel again.
If you were stranded in an airport, what three things would you want with you?
If stranded in an airport, I would like a pillow, blanket and laptop. My claim to fame is that I can sleep anywhere. Once I fell asleep in the lawn at the Indy 500—with ear plugs, but I still consider this pretty impressive. With a pillow and blanket I should be set. Then after my nap, with my laptop, I should be set to rebook my travel so I’m not stranded anymore.
If you could run into anyone famous—fictional or nonfictional, historical or mythical—during travel, whom would you want to run into? Why?
Katharine Hepburn. She was an incredible force in the film industry and broke through the norms of a prime and proper woman. Her contribution helped to change the female stereotype not only in film, but culture. I would love to run into her while traveling and pick her brain.
What is your favorite mode of transportation?
Within a destination, I really like to walk. You see a lot more walking down the city streets than zipping by in a car. Also, you have the ability to just stop and pop into different places. To me, you feel more a part of a new destination when you are experiencing it at this perspective.
What destination on your bucket list do you most want to visit, and why?
Egypt. In a previous life, I would have liked to be an archeologist and study the pharaohs. To fulfill this life dream, I would like to explore the various museums/sites and go on my own archeological expedition!
What’s your favorite activity while traveling, or something you’ve always wanted to try?
I like to bring my bike. I consider myself to be an avid cyclist—maybe more of a weekend warrior, now—but nonetheless a cyclist. It’s thrilling to experience new terrain from your saddle. You are able to see the world in slow-motion and really take in an area. There are a lot of backroads and mountains calling my name still, so I have a lot to still discover.
What do you love about travel?
Travel breaks an individual out of their usual everyday bubble. I enjoy how travel can push you into unexpected experiences. Nothing compares to being outside of your own backyard and assimilating into a new destination. Even if this destination is the park 30 minutes from your house that you’ve never been to.
There is always something new to experience and learn.
Written by Hemisphere Educational Travel