Global Guides: Kim Chaulk

Welcome back 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, and take time to train our guides.

Without further ado, meet Kim Chaulk. Not only is she a stellar guide, she was also one of our beloved group leaders, giving her that rare perspective of seeing a tour through the eyes of a group leader, teacher, and guide.  

A passionate educator, when she transitioned from school teacher to tour guide, she simply traded a four-walled classroom for the traveling classroom of a guide.  If you ever have the privilege of being guided by Kim, her experience culminates in professional, thoughtful, and wonderful tours!

A little about Kim, the guide:    

How long have you been guiding with GTA?

I’ve been a guide with GTA since June 2018; however, I’ve had a longstanding relationship with the company. I was a group leader, and my school partnered with Global to facilitate its annual Washington D.C and Virginia trip. (They still utilize the services of this great company!) When I decided to leave my position as the chair of the history department for my prep school and pursue a new career as a tour director, I knew my dream would be fulfilled if I gained employment with Global Travel Alliance. They provide the personal attention and individual services that many larger tour operators do not. Additionally, the community of GTA guides, support staff, and managers are unique in this industry…we’re part of a family who connect on a personal level and are always dedicated to assisting one another in an effort to ensure each group gets the best trip imaginable.

When you’re not guiding with GTA, what else are you involved in?

I am a member of the Washington DC Guild as well as Guides Association of New York (GANYC).  My background as an educator lends itself to continued professional development; subsequently, I have participated in almost every destination training offered through TripSchool to ensure I’m competent to guide in locations all across the US.  I am also a member of the International Association of Tour Directors and Guides (IATDG) and attend their annual conference for continued education in the field. 

In my personal life, I have participated in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) for almost 20 years, and I’m actively involved in my church when I’m not on tour.

You’ve guided numerous historic places.  Do you have a favorite destination to guide?

I can’t really say I have a favorite destination.  I find great fulfillment in sharing the history of our great nation, and this can be done anywhere.  I find myself guiding along the eastern corridor most frequently (D.C., VA, NYC, Philly, Gettysburg, and Boston), and no matter how often I’m there, it never grows old.  I simply love discovering new and often quirky stories about the people of our country. It’s quite often those bizarre tales that are most memorable, and these are my favorites to share with students.

Of all the trips you’ve guided, does any story stick out to you?

I gain great satisfaction taking student groups to Arlington National Cemetery and watching them interact with honor flight participants (veterans who’ve been brought to the nation’s capital to see the changing of the guard and the memorials).  As I listen to these courageous individuals share their stories of sacrifice and devotion to their country with our youth, I get a feeling of intense pride and hope.  The students walk away from these conversations with an education that simply cannot be replicated from reading a history textbook. I’ve long ago lost count of how many times I’ve been to Arlington.  That being said, what I can tell you is that it never…never grows old.

You are passionate about student travel – why? 

I am a firm believer in experiential education, particularly with today’s technology-centered generation.  Seeing things up close and in person meets the visual needs of our Gen Z student population.  Approaches to education are fluid and constantly evolving.  If we want to ensure the kids of today are going to fulfill their potential, we must show them, not merely tell them, about their country. When I lead groups from states such as Montana, North Dakota, or Wyoming, for instance, to New York City and they ride the subway for the first time, see endless skyscrapers all around them, hear numerous languages spoken, see a variety of different cultures and ethnicities, etc., it broadens their way of thinking and exposes them to a world that is far more expansive than they’d ever imagined.

What excites you when exploring a new destination?

My favorite part of exploring a new destination is chatting with locals and hearing firsthand accounts of their community and its people.  I cherish those personal connections, and am curious about their families and history. Each story is a detailed fabric piece to an intricately woven, larger tapestry. From learning about the ancestors that helped build the town to the new baby that was just born, it’s all fascinating to me.

When you’re not guiding with GTA, what else are you involved in?

I love to run/workout on the elliptical and read.  Each evening you’ll typically find me in the gym with my AirPods listening to music, my Kindle on enlarged font reading the lastest biography or historical fiction, and running.  This is my one hour of “me” time, and I cherish it. I’m a voracious reader, and I love most every genre.  When I’m home, I love to cook and simply spend quality time with my family.

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