And Reed High School French teacher Ilana Rugg is ready to lead you there. She is inviting all members of the community to tour France next summer for 10 days — plenty of time to get past the stereotypes.
“Travel makes people look at the world differently,” Rugg said. “They begin to appreciate cultures and it can really change people in a good way. There’s a whole world out there and I can do this and change lives for the better.”
As the daughter of a linguist mother who spoke English, French, Russian and Italian, Rugg grew up no stranger to foreign cultures.
“A love for foreign languages runs in my family,” Rugg said. “And growing up in New York City, I was always around people speaking different languages.”
French is the tongue that stuck with her. She has traveled to France seven times and lived there for two years.
“I loved it,” Rugg said of her time studying in France. “It’s a wonderful place and that’s why I want to share it with my students and the community.”
Upon returning home fluent, Rugg taught French at a camp where she discovered a love for teaching.
“I loved seeing language skills grow,” she said. “I loved working with the kids. And that’s when I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
Rugg has been teaching for more than 18 years now. She’s been at Reed for two years and has already seen the French program grow. She’s also taught at the college level and has organized other France trips while working as the International Educational Coordinator at Lake Tahoe Community College.
“It just opens people’s eyes to the world,” she said. “Students have the opportunity to take the leap from what they see in a textbook and experience it first hand. They can experience the food, the people, the culture.”
The Community Trip to France is not sponsored by the Washoe County School District and is therefore open to all members of the community, not just students.
The approximately $2,700 price tag includes airfare, hotel, breakfast and dinners and all entrance fees.
“Everything but lunches,” Rugg said. “And for lunch we don’t go expensive but we eat French food.”
Rugg planned the trip through Explorica, an educational travel company. While she has never worked with the business before, she is excited that the young company has kept its prices down while all others have been increasing.
“Travel is getting expensive,” she said. “But Explorica is great. It’s a great itinerary, nice hotels — this company doesn’t cut corners.”
While it may be cheaper than other trips, Rugg still acknowledges that the cash can be hard to come by, especially for students. Since the trip is not until August 2009, she’s hoping students can find sponsors or do fundraisers to assist with the expense.
“We’re doing the trip plenty of time in advance so kids can raise money,” Rugg said.
She added that when 30 people sign up for the trip she can allocate partial scholarships to some participants. Rugg said 40 is the most she wants to take and does expect the trip to fill.
While the trip is planned out to a tee, complete with a full-time tour guide, Rugg said participants will have time on their own in the evenings and occasionally during lunch time. The Explorica trip is for nine days but Rugg added a tenth day at no extra cost so patrons can have a day for themselves.
“If you want you can just go off and have a nice day in Paris,” she said.
All the usual stops are on tap for the trip, including visits to the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, but a few surprises are thrown in. The trip will also take patrons to Normandy to visit the D-Day beaches of World War II.
“That’s a wonderful experience,” Rugg said. “It’s so rich in history. I literally cry.”
For more information on the community trip to France, Rugg can be contacted at ParisSummer2009@aol.com.