Cuba: A Return to Sanity?

A mural of Che Guevara adorns a rural school

Dear Friends, At noon on December 17, 2014, the Academic Travel Abroad team gathered in our conference room to hear President Obama announce he intended to normalize relations with Cuba for the first time in over 50 years.  Many on our team have spent the past few years working closely with Cuba to deliver superb educational … Continue reading

Cuba: What Does it Say About our Country?

Dear Friends, I find Cuba endlessly fascinating. When you travel to Cuba, you always end up leaving with more questions than answers. Yet, beyond the cultural richness of this island nation, there is another way in which Cuba gives this U.S. citizen pause. Cuba provides an intriguing lens through which to view our own nation. … Continue reading

“You don’t go to Cuba for the food.”

Dear Friends, No one can deny that one of the many pleasures of traveling usually includes the local cuisine. Whether savoring a rich foie gras on a toast point in France, a saffron-tinted paella in Spain, a creamy carbonara in Italy, a fragrant cilantro-laced larb in Laos, the crispy lacquered skin of a Peking duck … Continue reading

Tribute to the Sands of Egypt

Dear Friends, The tale of the Egyptian Prince Tutmosis III and his encounter with the Sphinx of Giza fascinates me.  On a hunting trip in the Valley of the Gazelles some time before his reign, Tutmosis III decided to take a nap to escape the midday sun. He chose the shade below the head (the only visible … Continue reading

Language: More than a Practical Portal

  Dear Friends, One of the greatest human urges is to communicate. At an early stage, our toddlers demonstrate the frustration they feel when their meaning or intents are not understood for lack of language skills—sippy cups are thrown to the floor; food is flung from the high chair.  The message is clear: we want … Continue reading

The Beauty of Group Travel

Dear Friends, It’s been a while since my last post.  The fall was busy and marked by a trip to China in October that will go down in my mind as one of the greatest group travel experiences ever. This National Geographic journey started in Beijing and wove its way south through Xi’an, Chongqing, the Yangzi … Continue reading

Kate Simpson on the Smithsonian Journeys blog

Below is the latest blog from Kate Simpson, President of Academic Travel Abroad as seen on the Smithsonian Journeys blog page: China: Understanding Etiquette July 1st, 2009 by Kate Simpson Kate Simpson is President of Academic Travel Abroad, where she began her career as a China Program Manager in 1998 after completing a degree in East … Continue reading

China: Build it, and we will come. Complete it, and we can go elsewhere?

Dear Friends,   It seems like an eternity ago when I was a young China program manager for ATA and spent my time running tours with titles like “Decorative Arts of China,” “To The Edges of the Empire,” and “History through the Dynasties.”  That was back in the 1980s, before Tiananmen Square took place.   … Continue reading

The Resilience of the Travel Industry

Dear Friends, Reading the daily news has become an increasingly depressing exercise of late. We, in the travel industry, have our fair share of woes, as discretionary spending slows, retirement funds are halved, and consumer confidence wavers.  So it was a surprise and comfort to me when I attended a meeting in Savannah last week … Continue reading