Leader Spotlight: Matt Fox

Matt Fox: Global Routes Leader in GhanaWhat do you do when you aren’t leading programs with Global Routes?

I teach high school journalism and English in Bend, OR. When I am not teaching I race bikes competitively around the NW and nationally.  I also coach a high school cyclocross team as well as some jr cyclocross racers and help coach a high school nordic ski team.

What Brought You to Global Routes?

I have always loved to travel and I love working with high school students. I wanted to find something where I could combine those two passions and share them with others. I did a little searching and applied at a number of different organizations. I was most impressed with Global Routes and not only their interview and hiring process, but the programs they offered and the philosophy behind their organization.

What is one of your favorite moments from leading with GR?

There are so many favorite moments. Snorkeling in Belize, Hiking in the jungles of Thailand, exploring Angkor Wat in Cambodia, learning African drumming on the beaches of Ghana, Going on Safari in Tanzania, but what stands out most to me as a favorite moment is listening to countless students excitement and as they experience something new for the first time and share what they learn from their experiences. Really being able to see students learn something about themselves that they never knew is always the best part of any trip and helping to facilitate that is so rewarding.

What is one of the most unique situations you found yourself in as a Global Routes leader?

There are so many unique things on trips that you encounter, maybe a new “unique” food, people you meet, sights, it’s really a huge part of what makes the trips so rewarding. A situation that stands out was when we had the group was trekking to a hill tribe community in Thailand. We had just settled into a bamboo hut after a day of trekking and were chatting quietly when some locals came by with a guitar and started singing American songs, after about 2 min our whole group was signing along. It was a really surreal scene to be so isolated and removed and still make that connection with a totally different culture. It’s always the surprises like this that really stick with you.

Having led 5 programs with Global Routes, what kept you coming back year after year?

Yes, it’s been 5 summers with GR, it’s been such a rewarding experience. Something that I tell the students every year that keeps me coming back is them, it’s the students that make it incredible. Being a high school teacher I spend a lot of time around high school students,  but it’s so rewarding to see high school students really step outside their comfort zone and grow so much in such a short time. It’s hands on learning and the self-discovery and it’s not always easy to duplicate this in the classroom so it’s really rewarding as an educator to be part of this.

What advice would you share with a student who is considering a program for this summer?

 First I would say that it’s an amazing experience they won’t regret. It’s not always easy, it can be challenging, it ‘s not a vacation, but It’s an amazing journey.  I would say use the website to see what programs appeal to you and talk to folks who have done programs. Once you have decided be sure to utilize GR and your leaders to make sure you feel ready.

Anything else you want to add?

One more bit of advice…the trips go sooo fast and as soon as it is over you will really miss it and wish you could be back. Savor each day, be present and don’t forget where you are. Enjoy the journey!


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