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BURLINGTON, NC (WGHP) — For more than three decades Go Global NC has been taking teachers in our state to other parts of the world for education and training programs.

Two Teachers of the Year recently traveled across the globe for what they called an awesome adventure that changed their lives forever.

Teachers Kelly Poquette and Chris Doi spent two weeks in Zimbabwe.

“We were there learning a little bit about eco-tourism. We spent a lot of time in classrooms as well. Doing some actual teaching in classrooms with co-teaching with local teachers. In Victoria Falls, as well. We did a lot of classroom visits in Bulawayo, which is another pretty large-sized city in Zimbabwe. On top of that, we connected with nature. We did some safari in Hwange National Park and it was just a special experience,” said Doi.

The trip was made possible by the Alamance County Chamber of Commerce. Poquette and Doi were Alamance County Teachers of the Year. Poquette in 2020 and Doi in 2021. This professional development is part of their prize packages.

“That was so impactful because it wasn’t the district saying great job because they already appreciate the work that we are doing,” says Poquette. “It was the business community saying we appreciate the work you are doing. But we want you to go, learn more and bring it back.”

And that they did! Both agree it was an eye-opening trip in many ways.

“For me, it’s collaboration and it’s having those connections of people that can fill in gaps in my understanding and gaps, in my lack of knowing different cultures and different practices and really bringing true examples into my classroom of what other people are doing in other countries. That’s the biggest thing for me. It was also just seeing the beauty of another country and going, wow, I really didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t really have any expectations set, but it was gorgeous,” Poquette said.

“I went into the program thinking that, wow, I’m going to see all this amazing stuff. And it’s going to be this indescribable, natural beauty of Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls, one of the wonders of the world, all that. But really the true beauty that I left with was the people. And to be completely honest, that’s what just struck me more than anything was the spirit of cooperation, the value placed on education,” said Doi.

In fact, he says children in that country are willing to sacrifice a lot, just to get an education. According to him they get up pre-dawn to walk to school. “I mean, we’re ready to go out and see something really cool in the morning, we’re leaving at five o’clock in the morning. These kids have been walking for an hour already just to get to school because knowledge has so much value for them. Because that’s their wealth.”

Both teachers brought back lots of souvenirs and stories they can share with their students. They say this trip though goes far beyond the classroom. “It’s the experience of a lifetime,” says Doi. “I don’t think you can go through something like that and not be changed. Not only as a teacher but as a human being. Like fundamentally changed through that type of experience.”

“There’s just so much that’s going to come from this that hasn’t happened yet. It’s just, it’s just the beginning,” said Poquette.

In fact, the idea-sharing made possible by technology has already begun and they say it will continue for as long as they are teaching.