Ty Brown is a runner and coaches cross country, plus he’s every bit the globe-trotter.
And he’s determined to help a group of high school students become globe-trotters, too.
“When I graduated from college, my big sister was a flight attendant and she had this thing where anyone in our family could fly for free,” the West Valley teacher and coach said. “So I flew to Europe and did the traditional thing and backpacked across Europe.
“That’s really where I was bitten with the travel bug. Since then I’ve traveled as much as I could, and I have been especially fascinated by China. I’ve been there several times.”
Several summers ago Brown, then a coach and teacher at Colville, led a group of students on a trip to China.
“We could have gone anywhere, of course, but I chose China because it is so different from what we know,” Brown said. “That’s the thing about traveling that is so good for everyone, but especially kids. It opens you up to a whole new part of the world.”
The package tour took the group around the country, from the rapidly growing metropolis of Shanghai to the Great Wall.
“It was a wonderful trip,” Brown said. “Our kids were on a bus with students from across the country. We had kids from Chicago, Los Angeles, Texas – that was part of what made it so interesting. Not only were the kids seeing things like the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors, they were meeting and getting to know kids from other parts of their own country for the first time.
“I stay in touch with that group of kids, and I know they’re still Facebook friends with some of those kids from the trip.”
Brown has begun to arrange another trip to China in the summer of 2015.
“Our target is to get 12 kids, between the ages of 16 and 20, signed up to go,” he said. “I’d love to take 40 kids if I could, and they don’t have to be from West Valley. Part of the fun of a trip like this is to see new things and meet new people.”
The plan is for students to fly into Beijing. After touring the capital city, they fly on to Xi’an, then Yangshuo before ending up in Shanghai.
“The tour is called China: from Ancient to Modern,” Brown said. “It really gives you that whole perspective. You get the ancient part of China, but you also see the modern part as well. There are more skyscrapers being built in China than any other place in the world. It’s an emerging power and economy and I believe we’ll be dealing with China for a long time to come.
“I’ve been there myself multiple times, and every time I go, I see something new and I see the changes.”
But perhaps as important as visiting places of historical importance, he said, is the opportunity to meet and come to know something about another culture.
“The last group I took was really impressed by the Great Wall,” he said. “It was a foggy day, and they didn’t get the whole panorama of the place, but it was still so impressive to stand on something so big and so significant.
“But I think our kids were just as excited about their free nights, when they could go out and be on the streets with people. It’s great for them to learn to communicate with people who don’t speak the same language.”
The cost of the 12-day trip is $3,755.
“I don’t like to tell people how much it costs right off the bat because it’s easy to say, ‘We can’t afford it,’ ” he said. “Once we get kids signed up, we can start to work on ways to help raise funds to make it work for everyone.”
He hopes people will look into it.
“What you get from a trip like this is invaluable.”