Welcome to our tour guide spotlight series: Global Guides. If you’ve ever been on an educational student group tour, you don’t need to be told how important the guide is. They can be the life-blood of the tour! It’s why we love working with the best ones.
So meet one of our best, J.J. Peterson. He is not only one of our stellar tour guides, but also just generally talented, working in almost every capacity within our great company. J.J. embodies so much of what Global Travel Alliance is about: relationships, education, building bridges and changing lives through educational student travel.
In addition to guiding fantastic tours, J.J. is in charge of making all things beautiful as our Director of Art and Design. He currently resides outside of Minneapolis, MN, with his lovely wife Soo.
A little more about J.J., the guide:
How long have you been tour guiding students?
What do you love about guiding?
I love spending time with the kids on these trips, they’re awesome. It’s really special to see them shine. They’re so much fun to be around and it feels good to work hard for their benefit. I care a lot about delivering their entire itinerary at the right pace. I know students may not know if they missed something, but it matters to me that they see everything and feel safe while doing so.
What’s been an unexpected part of tour guiding over the years?
Building the relationships with teachers year after year. I’ve had the opportunity to guide the same schools and teachers for several years and it’s a blessing to become friends and earn their trust. It’s a true partnership and it feels like a reunion every year!
What’s your favorite destination to guide students?
All of our American Heritage destinations are great but New York City really stands out. I especially love taking student groups from more rural areas and showing them the energy and culture of NYC. It’s an exciting experience to lead them into and out of. And we get to eat great food!
Of all the trips you’ve guided, does any story stick out to you?
There are lots of them but the first that comes to mind is one from New York City. I was guiding a group from a really small town in eastern Montana and when we took our first subway ride you could see on their faces how nervous and excited they were. We were on our way from Midtown to Battery Park for a morning ferry ride to Ellis Island, and one student shared with me (loud enough for some of the locals in our subway car to hear) about how different riding the NYC subway is – compared to what its like riding horses, cows, and even sheep back home in Montana. All of us around him got a kick out of that. For that group, NYC was literally the exact opposite of their hometown, and I love having the chance to guide kids through experiences like that one.
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