A Light in the Dark by Brooke Brennan

Our Bookbag Tour Family is more than just the people listed on the team page but includes every individual who goes on a trip, follows us on social media, or reads the blog. This blog is a space for our family to get to know one another, share their stories, and bring more people into the Bookbag Tour Family. A Light in the Dark was written by Brooke Brennan, an educator that traveled to Australia with the Bookbag Tour family in 2018. Check out her story below!


On a cold Wednesday night in January, the mid year slump had hit. That feeling of I don't know how I am going to make it until June. The anxious discussions of the impending statewide and district tests that will be arriving soon, loomed over the lounge with a darkness.

Searching for some positivity and inspiration through the world of “Teacher” Instagram, I stumbled across an ad for a tour group that would take my first love, education, and pair it with my second, travel (cue singing angel choir). It really seemed too good to be true. The chance to travel abroad, observe a classroom, and connect with educators from around the US. SURIOUSLY!?! *In my best Gerry Brooks voice* Within a few hours of intense internet research, I knew this was an opportunity that I could not pass up. I took a leap of faith, that chilly and uninspired January night, and put the deposit on a trip that would come to be an invaluable experience.

What differed from this trip, compared to others, was the opportunity to be surrounded by people who had one familiar characteristic, a passion for education! I’ve found whenever a teacher meets fellow educators, there is an instant bonding that follows with the sharing of a few short #teacherlife stories. Although I was going into this trip not personally knowing a single person, I already knew I would become fast friends with whomever I’d be traveling with.

Once our group was together, in Bowen, with our incredible host teachers, and the teacher stories had been shared, I knew the bond we were building would be strong. The experiences with our host families were amazing. From the late night Kangaroo hunts and before school beach walks, to the grade level planning sessions and school wide sense of community. Getting to see the intensity of the greatest Australian sports rivalry, the State Of Origin match, from the couch of a true Queensland diehard (Go Reds!). Whether it was side splitting laughter at the differences in what pencil erasers are called or the differences in the way we pronounce Youtube or the letter Z, the memories we shared with the people of Bowen are unforgettable.

On top of all the wonderful classroom experiences and relationship building the excursion opportunities were AH-MAZ-ING.  Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge, or spending way too much money at Australian book stores (Because, as previously mentioned, #teacherlife).  The late night lobby Wifi hangs, amature broadway singalongs, and local pub dance moves are not quickly forgotten.

So, if you find yourself reading this somewhere in the middle of testing blues and reteaching ALL the things after a long winter break.... LEAP! Book the trip, make the memories, and grow your teacher tribe.

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” -Anonymous

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