Create Citizens of a Global Community Through Socially-Conscious Travel
- Transcend Ordinary Tourism: Engage with vibrant cultures of nations healing from war.
- Learn Long-Term: Insightful experiential education for teachers and students.
- Create Peace: Understand diplomacy and mutual prosperity with social enterprise and non-profit organizations abroad.
- Motivate Students: Become informed, invested citizens of a global community through socially-conscious travel.
How Can we Grow from Historical Conflict?
Teachers know the classroom silence which can follow big philosophical questions. Understanding global issues, socio-economic power and military actions in a Post-9/11 world is a challenge. Although today’s students are growing up with American forces stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the lessons from global conflict are remote.
Students want to learn from real experiences. We provide amazing expeditions and dynamic travel curriculum that go far beyond social studies’ textbooks. Our travelers go deep: we explore lessons from past conflicts and how to transform international differences into opportunities for wealth.
Our travelers learn what happened, how to make better choices, how to innovate answers for the future. Adventure travel and meaningful community service teaches about the human, environmental and economic consequences of war—and the riches of peace.
We Are Teachers
Since 2005, we’ve grown from a single classroom experiment to a savvy educational travel program connecting American students to countries developing from conflict.
Join us! Discover the world first-hand, expand your knowledge, and acquire the skills to promote global stability.
Alethea Tyner Paradis, a history teacher, founded Friendship Tours in 2005.
Witnessing how academic achievement and student interest increased with experiential-service learning, she wanted to give her students an immersive educational experience lacking in mainstream classrooms.
“It occurred to me and other like-minded educators that our nation hadn't learned many important lessons from our controversial military adventures in SE Asia.” Recognizing a need for meaningful experiential education about the legacy of warfare, Tyner Paradis developed an integrative program that invites students to understand war--and the benefits of negotiated peace--from the perspective of people who live with its aftermath. Alethea has taught high school and college social sciences courses focused in social justice since 1997. (B.A. in history and teaching credential from the University of California, Santa Barbara, 1994; Juris Doctorate from Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College, 1998.). She has led groups of students through Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia. In addition to directing Friendship Tours, Alethea provides consultation for independent schools instituting their own global education programs. She lives in Santa Barbara with her husband and son.
Kelly Nicholson, M.A. Sales Director
“I believe in the power of education to change a life, not just for the individual but for generations”
— Kelly Nicholson, Nebraska
Growing up a farmer’s daughter, Kelly hails from the heart of farm country. Earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communications from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and a Master’s of Arts in Leadership, Bellevue University inspired her to pursue a career serving others in education. With over 25 years of experience in the fields of human resources, collegiate admissions and teaching, Kelly has a unique talent for understanding the essence of human engagement and motivation.
To Friendship Tours, Kelly brings a passion for the teaching craft. “I love the classroom,” she bubbles with characteristic enthusiasm. “Working with like-minded teachers, I’ve helped students enhance their interpersonal skills, build teams, learn effective communication, think creatively, and problem-solve for success.” Kelly’s educational vision for the individual learner complements our global programs. She provides a perfect nexus between in-class and real-life experiential learning for our teacher-chaperones.
Kelly resides in Nebraska with her husband, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
Kevin Shertzer, B.A, M.A, Ed. Teacher Leader
"Mr. Shertzer taught me that even one person has the power to make a difference.”
— Anishka, 10th grade, California
Kevin has been leading Friendship Tours since 2005. A Yale graduate of history with an emphasis in global conflict, Kevin's interest in historical warfare and the post-Holocaust promises of "Never Again" inspired him to pursue a career in education. He earned a Master's in Education from University of California Santa Barbara, in 2001 and has been teaching social science courses at Laguna Blanca School while coaching CIF-winning soccer teams.
“Traveling with students is deeply rewarding. It adds a sophistication to both learning and teaching which can only be achieved through the shared experience of discovery.”
Kevin's insistence upon rigorous academic standards, critical investigation, and morality make him a profoundly effective instructor both in the classroom and abroad.
Debbie Davis, Administrative Manager
A native of Troy, New York, Debbie is a Vietnam era veteran who worked for Army Intelligence interpreting aerial and satellite imagery. While serving in the military, Debbie met and married her husband, lived abroad in Germany, England and several of our United States. Before the birth of her son, Debbie graduated with honors in the Architectural Drafting and Design program from Fayetteville Technical Institute in North Carolina and excelled in accounting courses at the University of Maryland.
To Friendship Tours, Debbie brings over two decades of administrative and management experience, her superior organizational talents, inter-cultural education and her passion for a better world. Debbie has been involved in a broad range of volunteer activities in her community and beyond as the executive director of the non-profit, Give Children A Choice. “I believe that life is a learning experience,” she writes with characteristic humility, “I genuinely care for all people, I am keenly aware of the less fortunate and strive to do whatever I can to help.”
Susan Snyder, M.A., Teacher Leader
"A mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes
An award-winning guidance counselor at Santa Barbara High School, Susan is known for her adventurous globe-trotting: she has explored nearly 50 countries on educational adventures.
“I love the enthusiasm and curiosity of students on a trip. Traveling with young people is inspiring. It allows me to view the world through their eyes and learn with them, side-by-side.”
A former math and science teacher and university instructor, Susan has 20 years’ experience as an impactful educator, including one year teaching in Spain. Susan has a B.A. in Biology, teaching credentials in four subjects, and an M.A. and credential in Counseling. As a counselor, Susan specializes in empowering disadvantaged students to navigate the road to college.
Gabija Safranavicius, Santa Barbara High School Junior, Social Media Intern
Gabija’s travels with Friendship Tours inspired her to pursue deeper engagement with our program and the world at large. As a first-generation Lithuanian-American, Gabija’s passion for experiential learning abroad has taken her across both linguistic and cultural barriers.
On our 2012 Vietnam Discovery Tour, Gabija sought to understand the world of immersive education in media and journalism. In the future, she aspires to major in communications, become a newsprint journalist, and explore how modern media unifies diverse cultures.
As an intern, she writes Peace Works blogs, and places value on the power of independent journalism to expose the realities of the global human condition. At Santa Barbara High School, Gabija strives to share the knowledge that she has attained through her travels and to inspire other students to do the same.
Devon Bell Turner, B.A., Teacher Leader and Curriculum Developer
"Ms. Bell taught me to take charge of my learning."
— Sergio, 11th grade, California
Dynamic and organized, Ms. Turner has been a Teacher Leader with Friendship Tours since 2008. A summa cum laude graduate of UCSB, Devon earned a B.A. in English Literature in 2005. Since then, she has taught English Literature and Reading Comprehension courses at UCSB's Upward Bound program to first generation college hopefuls.
"Watching young people have experiences abroad which change them for the better is very special for me. It's why I teach and travel with kids—to support students when they have their "aha!" moments."
Devon manages Friendship Tours' destination curriculum and California State University, Sacramento, college credit programs for us. During the spring and summer breaks she works as a Teacher.