Europe 2019 included 45 travelers from Los Alamos – 39 graduates and six chaperones in front of the always-busy Piazza del Duomo June 20, 2019 in Milan. Courtesy photo
Today, June 14th, 31 graduated seniors should be boarding an airplane to fly to France for their 11-day educational tour of Europe so they can expand their horizons and celebrate their end of high school.
However, like many whose summer travel plans have changed, Europe 2020’s travelers will not be able to travel abroad with their peers for their special trip to Paris, the Alps, Munich, and Vienna.
On March 9, Europe 2020 seniors had their last group meeting where there was talk of a global virus but no specific changes in life yet. The soon-to-be graduates shared their excitement about touring the Palace of Versailles, rooming with each other, hiking the Alps, imagining future college life with each other on the bus, learning at the concentration camp Dachau, and having a coffee in Vienna.
Just days later, on March 11, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and the U.S. announced level 3 travel advisory. Europe 2020’s enthusiasm changed as they watched the coronavirus progress and travel industry halt.
By mid April, with the global pandemic’s ongoing transmission and suspension of nonessential international travel, travelers were informed that summer tours with EF Tours were postponed.
This educational trip would have been the ninth summer tour for Los Alamos graduates led by local teacher Lynn Ovaska. As with each of her past tours, Ovaska works with EF Tours to help adventurous young adults develop a more global perspective before they move onto college. Every year on tour, Ovaska witnesses how travel changes lives so she is saddened to not be able to offer this meaningful experience to the Class of 2020 graduates.
“Just today, I got a photo reminder of last year’s Europe 2019 tour. Looking at those 39 graduates, I feel so disappointed that I cannot offer the same for this year’s amazing kids, many whom I’ve known since they were in preschool,” she said. “This year’s spectacular group would have been so great to travel with because they already are so curious and open-minded. A handful of them had taken AP Euro with me last year and we were so excited to see some of the places we had studied.”
EF Tours has converted traveler’s funds into Future Travel Vouchers that are good for two years. Travelers and Ovaska have been working through the options. They can stay as a group and travel together in 2021, use their Future Travel Vouchers for a different EF experience such as EF Tours for Graduating Seniors specifically designed for Class of 2020 graduates, transfer or sell their vouchers to a teen who will travel in the future with Ovaska, or cancel individually.
If you would like to still support one of the 31 Europe 2020 travelers, the last of Europe 2020’s popular fair-trade, organic, kosher coffee is for sale. To get it sold quickly and get funds to travelers, they are selling their 10 oz. bags at cost for just $7.
Coffee is whole bean or ground, in French Roast, Dark Roast and Medium Roast. To order, email Lynn Ovaska at firstname.lastname@example.org with your order and the best way to reach you. She will set up no-contact delivery and receipt of payment.
All funds raised now and in the past will go directly back to the Europe 2020 travelers so they can cover any travel change expenses or use it for a future trip.
They might not be able to learn beyond the textbook at actual historical sights or see cultures first-hand over this week, but Ovaska knows that this year’s graduates are still excited for what the future holds for them.
“This is a pretty awesome group of kids, many who worked hard to pay their own way for this tour,” she said. “As travel stalled the last few months, we talked about how trips abroad are a privilege. Many graduates have shared with me that they realize how special time this time after high school, before college, is. I am honored that I could lead so many young adults during this sweet spot of young adulthood. Even though travel is a luxury we just cannot have right now, I know, when it is possible, this Class of 2020 will jump at the opportunity to see the world because they already are so resilient and globally minded.”
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