How We Work With Schools

Customized Travel Programs

As part of our mission, Envoys is always ready to speak with interested faculty and administrators to learn how we might assist their school to achieve global education goals. Envoys works hand-in-hand with our partner schools to design, implement, and assess travel programs around the world.

Qualified Envoys staff conduct participatory workshops for administrators, teachers, parents and/or students to discover goals and objectives for global competency and educational travel.

After accurately understanding the end outcomes and specific needs of a particular teacher, we meet with the school to discuss the possibilities. Envoys staff outline the intersections between the school’s needs and research-based, proven approaches to global education.

Based on this work, Envoys crafts a program proposal tailored to the partner school in terms of the following:

  • Educational goals and objectives
  • Destination country or region
  • Thematic content and curricular integration
  • Specific targeted skill-sets
  • Assessments and student outputs

We then work hand-in-hand with our partner schools to integrate the program into the life of the school.

Envoys Communication Principles

Education Requires Collaboration

Research has proven that there is a positive and convincing relationship between family involvement and student academic success. Similarly, the achievement of our learning outcomes requires the establishment of a collaborative and trusting relationship that includes all relevant stakeholders.

Decisions Require Information

We respect the intelligence of parents considering international travel for their children, and we refuse to make ‘guarantees’ that are untenable in a complex world. Instead, we provide information about the potential risks involved with each destination and the external sources that should be consulted prior to making a decision.

Sharing Stories is Part of the Journey

Advances in communications technology are rapidly removing barriers for the flow of information from the field. This ‘new normal’ means that we have a responsibility to provide regular updates, no matter where in the world an Envoys program is located.

Envoys Communication Methods

Presentations and Workshops

Envoys staff make presentations to parents and students about the educational objectives, potential risks, necessary preparations, and expected communications. We answer questions, take notes for any adaptations, and provide a concrete timeline to follow. Most importantly, we establish relationships with our program participants, allowing us to create a better-tailored program.

Online Portals

Envoys creates a dedicated and customized website for every program, containing all necessary information for participants. From this site, parents access online portals for uploading medical forms and processing payments, while students are able to log into online courses and check their packing lists.

Customer Service

Envoys HQ and program staff take pride in our responsiveness with parents. We understand that many important questions arise outside of normal business hours, and so we dedicate ourselves to providing multiple means of communication at all times, including 1-800 numbers, online trip-tracking sites, customized program portals, and rapid email responses.

Program Reports

Along with our ‘window-into-the-adventure’ provided by our online trip-tracking system, Envoys can work with teachers to create detailed reports on each student at the conclusion of the program. These reports detail areas of strength evidenced during the program, as well as areas where improvement is needed.

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Our team works hand-in-hand with innovative faculty to maximize educational value.

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Envoys Testominals

Operations

Envoys operations are built on the extensive infrastructure and experience of Off-Bound Adventures, our parent organization.
We take an adaptive approach to developing each program, including the following elements:

Envoys is proud to recognize that we NEVER work alone. Upholding our belief in intercultural understanding, Envoys engages carefully-selected local academics, guides, social workers, and artisans to ensure the highest quality and most authentic educational experience.

In 2013, we established a partnership agreement with the Grassroots Business Fund, a social impact investment firm assisting low-income businesses throughout the developing world. Through this partnership, Envoys has a mandate to select, train, and support locally-owned businesses during our travel programs. On an annual basis, we review and report on the impact of our programs according to a series of impact metrics developed in partnership with GBF, ensuring that our programs contribute to the development of sustainable livelihoods abroad.

Envoys prices each program according to the specifications set out by our partner schools. We commit to providing a full and transparent depiction of the costs associated with the program, including our own program fees, to help make decisions and ensure that the opportunities are available to a wider range of students.

Envoys engages in regular scouting trips to our destinations, both during the ‘off-season’ and in the days before student arrival. During these trips, we evaluate accommodation, restaurants, transportation, and activity vendors to confirm that our standards have been met. We invite partner teachers to accompany us on these trips and learn more about both the destination and how we work!

Envoys staff follow a strict set of protocols for communications with our operational headquarters and actions in the event of an emergency. Based on our years of experience, we have developed a set of “field checklists” to guide our staff in the day-to-day conduction of field operations, including transportation management, hiking protocols, and other frequently occuring activities. Checklists are submitted through a mobile application to maintain a flow of information from the field to headquarters.

Every year, Envoys recruits, screens, and trains an array of adults to serve as field staff on our programs. Our field staff bring a wide diversity of education, experience, and talents to their work, including regional expertise, language ability, medical training, logistics prowess, and subject-matter. Most importantly, they all love working with youth, and believe deeply that our work makes a difference. We utilize a blended training model of face-to-face and online courses, including tests from the Expert Online Training system, to develop staff and prepare for work in the field.

Envoys recognizes that a degree of risk is inherent in all international travel and outdoor activities. Potential hazards include tropical diseases, exposure to unsanitary conditions, severe weather, public disorder, and transportation delays. Mental health issues may also be exacerbated through the stresses of a new experience.

No one can guarantee freedom from harm, including accident, injury, illness, or death.

Operating under these constraints, Envoys is responsible for creating and implementing risk assessment and management plans, in partnership with our collaborating schools for our programs. We maintain lines of communication with the field to handle any eventuality. Upholding our organizational ethos of continuous improvement, Envoys engages in regular and repeated updates of our procedures.

Envoys utilizes rigorous evaluations to drive performance and communicate our results to schools and families. Every lesson is field-tested and regularly assessed for its effectiveness at meeting learning goals.

Envoys internal assessments are conducted through three means:

1. Detailed staff observations produced by Envoys staff at the conclusion of each trip
2. Open-ended evaluations from students and teachers taking Envoys trips
3. Skill development assessments taken by Envoys students following each trip

At the conclusion of the trip, we produce reports for our stakeholders

Faculty Training

Through a blended model of online courses, in-person workshops, and international travel, Envoys works to improve the core competencies of faculty in order to ensure that they reach their maximum potential.

Training themes include:

We build knowledge and facilitate reflective conversations around how the ideal abstractions of global citizenship are translated into the realities of our personal and professional lives. Participants delve into the history of global citizenship education, looking at how different countries have taken alternative approaches to preparing youth to engage with the world.

We learn to design more effective learning contexts, including both structured and unstructured pathways for transformational learning experiences to occur. Focusing on program design, we learn to develop ‘SMART’ objectives for our programs and how to sequence activities to expand student comfort zones and create leadership opportunities.

We learn how to fulfill the role of an educator outside of the context of our classrooms, building the skills to manage groups, develop teamwork, and support students through their learning journeys abroad. Participants develop confidence in the ‘nuts and bolts’ of experiential education, including:

– Setting expectations and helping students to develop objectives
– Framing activities and allowing ‘challenge by choice’
– Adapting to change and taking advantage of ambiguity
– Managing groups and building student leadership
– Facilitating meaningful reflections
– Maintaining relationships with community partners

We learn to help students transfer skills, maximize opportunities and translate the knowledge gained abroad into action when they return home.

Adding global dimensions to individual identities lies at the heart of global citizenship education. We learn about ways that educators can authentically and honestly include their students in ongoing struggles with these concepts.

We analyze what is innately ‘global’ about various subjects, determining the respective foundations on which we can build new practices. Teachers are then challenged to develop minor, medium, and major activities that can be undertaken within their classroom settings.

Case studies and workshops push faculty to think through issues around risk management, logistical planning, and potential issues that could arise ‘in the field.’ Using a “probability/consequences” model, faculty learn how to make judgements in the face of uncertainty and develop confidence in their programming decisions.

Curriculum Development

Through our online platforms, Envoys provides a wide range of curricular materials for schools to improve the quality of their global education programming.

Students review a curated series of videos, articles, and other media relevant to the history and culture of their destination. Instructors from Envoys facilitate discussions and answer questions. Students take assessments to prove their understanding.

Students research the health risks relevant to their destination, learn about methods to mitigate those risks, and pass assessments related to health and safety.

Students learn about best practices for packing light and traveling smart. They provide their own potential packing lists for comment by Envoys instructors.

Students learn about common pathways for diseases, including vectors, food and water, and animals, as well as necessary precautions to take while traveling abroad. A mixture of assessments and practical activities ensure that they have gained the necessary skills.

Students learn about methods to calculate risk and the heightened potential for faulty judgments when abroad. They display their ability to make better decisions by explaining their reactions to a variety of travel scenarios.

Through a series of introspective and collaborative exercises, students begin the process of examining their own assumptions around culture. Students take empathy assessments and create plans for developing their empathic abilities, both at home and abroad.

After developing the necessary background knowledge, students select an individual research topic and create a briefing sheet to share with their classmates. These sheets provide the basis for individual research areas conducted while in-country.

Communication Platforms

Envoys has developed a proprietary mobile system (which functions without a data connection) to maintain a flow of documented information from the field to headquarters. Forms submitted by each device can be sent to a variety of channels, including email and cloud-based data storage.

They are intended to serve three purposes:
1. To assist chaperones to perform their responsibilities more effectively and efficiently
2. To aid decision-making processes
3. To provide documentation of operational standards in practice

These forms include open and closed-ended questions, and photographs. Forms can include geolocation and/or timestamps. The form application may be installed on either an iOS or Android device. The application does not require a data connection to function. Checklists can be completed and stored on the device, then submitted automatically when a data connection is present.

On a subscription basis, Envoys provides schools with the technological infrastructure as well as a base set of “field checklists” to guide our staff in the day-to-day conduction of field operations, including transportation management, hiking protocols, and restaurant inspections.