The Global Difference

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by J.J. Peterson

I lead student trips all over the world – more specifically, I guide educational travel to Washington, D.C. and New York City. Thousands of students hear me, walk behind me, laugh with me, and eventually wave goodbye to me. Unlike other travel companies, we stick tight to each group starting day 1 at baggage claim and ending the last day at airport security. Like other travel companies, I don’t often see our student travelers again after that sad day (one rare exception).

My friend and Global Teammate, Ryan Sparzak, is trying to change all of that. He is leading our Service Learning opportunities for veteran Global Travelers. He also shaved his beard.

We are not like other student travel companies. We have important differences that set us apart. Last week, Ryan launched this goal-to-be-different into a whole new stratosphere. Not only did Ryan, who led a trip to D.C. with me during the recent government shutdown, go to visit the guys and girls, their parents, and their teachers at that school, but he let them shave his face. Imagine the giant-smile highly-caffeinated 14 year old 8th grade boy nicknamed “Skeffy” holding a miniature hedge trimmer 10 centimeters from your face. Sounds more like “Sketchy” to me.

During the early stages of our educational adventure to Washington, D.C., these students began to obsess over Ryan’s beard – they even nicknamed him “Fuzzy.” He decided to make a deal with the students: If they were on time for every appointment and meet-up time, he would not shave until a post-trip picture party at the school. He would allow the students to do the clipping. This sparked countless conversations about how they were going to design his beard. By the end of the trip, Fuzzy had become the group favorite.

A day before the last, a small group of students showed up late and therefore let Fuzzy off the hook. The next morning however, Fuzzy was also late. This sent the 52 passenger delux motorcoach full of preteens into triumphant hysterics. The deal was back on! I also cheered very loud and proud.

Finally, two months after the last day of that trip, the students, their parents, and their teachers met Ryan at their school to descend upon the Almighty Beard of Fuzzy. Their parents looked on with a mix of horror and uncomfortable laughter. A first few swipes with the hair clippers went a bit timid, but by the fourth and fifth swipe, it was as if each kid turned into a Michelangelo hoping to shave the next David. Fuzzy was soon no more.

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Please know that we are different. Understand that Ryan, myself, and the rest of our Global Team will always love and keep safe your students. We actually go the extra mile. Our goal and company motto is to “Build Bridges and Change Lives Through Educational Travel” and that is exactly what happens when you travel with us.

The Global Difference is much greater than it seems.

It’s not even a close shave.