It Starts with Service

We continue to lead 8th grade class trips to Washington, D.C. with an educational emphasis on service, sacrifice, and more.

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by Ryan Sparzak, Lead Educator and Director of Global Doing Good

Starting this month, thousands of 8th grade students from places like Colorado, Nebraska, Montana, and many other states will journey on their annual school trip to Washington, D.C.  It’s a very exciting and historically rich educational adventure.  I’m proud to be part of this tradition and to have the responsibility of educating future adult citizens about our Capitol and our history.  The mission of Global Travel Alliance staff is to develop young people that will serve in their community and the world through travel and informed action, both now and in the future.  This trip to D.C. is only the beginning and it’s a great place to start.

One of the core values of our company is service, and one of the phrases we use on a regular basis is “It starts with service”.  We live it every day as we go above and beyond for our teachers and schools.  We aren’t interested in scaling up or growing into a mega-corporation. In fact, providing a high level of service to each and every one of our partners and parents cannot be scaled up because deep, long-standing relationships aren’t manufactured or automatic.  Strong relationships require sacrifice, time, and great effort.  We like it that way and so do the educators that work with us.

You might be thinking that a lot of companies say “It starts with service” and I guess each has their own claims to such a sentiment.  However, our Washington, D.C. students trips (a flagship Global Travel Alliance program) always focus on Arlington National Cemetery – a place that symbolizes the ultimate service of laying down one’s life for another.

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I remember my first visit to Arlington National Cemetery as a middle school student.  It was life changing and continues to be every time I lead a group there.  To be surrounded by the rows of bright white tombstones in perfect eternal formation and to experience the palpable honor and reverence this place emits is amazing.  8th grade students, normally boisterous and full of energy, grow silent and solemn, overwhelmed by a sense of awe and deep respect.

On these D.C. tours we talk a lot about the expensive cost of freedom and the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. Thanks to them, we can enjoy all of the many freedoms we have in America.  Our country isn’t perfect, but we hope that in a place like Arlington students will begin to see the kind of sacrifice and courage it takes to keep our nation moving in the right direction.

Student Travel Washington DC

Thanks to educational travel, we believe that students will know more about how future efforts and service to their community will help keep our nation strong while holding onto the foundational belief that all people are created equal and have an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Furthermore, we hope these students see that they have a role to play in serving both at home and throughout the world.  The 8th grade trip to Washington, D.C. is only the starting point for future work in communities in which they can both learn and serve.

We are passionate about serving and providing others the opportunity to serve. To learn more about how you can get involved, please visit