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Alumni Travel Program at ASU Makes Subtle Changes to Keep in Line with Association’s Shifting Goals

Published: Friday, July 20, 2012

Updated: Friday, July 20, 2012 16:07

Miss the opportunity to study abroad while you were in school, or want to re-live those glory days (without the smelly hostels and shoestring budget)? The Arizona State Alumni Association’s freshly re-christened travel program offers Sun Devils the chance to learn about the countries and cultures of the world, including the US, in the company of fellow Arizona State alumni.

The program formerly known as Sun Devil Destinations is now ASU Travel and Tours.

Along with the name change, the Alumni Association also altered the travel schedule for 2013, expanding the list of itineraries available to its members. An Alaskan cruise hosted by Association President Christine K. Wilkinson highlights the new offerings, along with trips to Northern Italy and Scotland, among other national and international locales.

Because the program is for university alumni, one of the main points of emphasis in each of the trips is letting alums continue to learn by educating them about the history and culture of their destinations. ASU Travel and Tours says they contract with companies committed to informative, educational travel. From Tiananmen Square in China to the D-Day beaches of Normandy, travelers can stand at the sites of some of the most significant events in world history while deepening their understanding through talks from scholars and local guides.

“(Participants) hear lectures throughout the trip about really great, fascinating, interesting things related to the country that they’re visiting, so the educational part is definitely key,” said Jennifer Holsman-Tetreault, executive director of operations for the association and the director of the travel program, in a podcast on the association’s website.

But because the program is for ASU alumni, organizers make sure to keep the good times rolling as well. One of the 2013 offerings, a Tahitian cruise, includes a complimentary bottle of wine for each thirsty traveler. The last day of a tour of Classic China and the Yangtze includes a wild acrobatics show and “toasts to our adventures.”

Many of the tours have a limit of around 30 people to keep the experience intimate and not overly crowded. And with all of the travelers having attended ASU, they share a connection before they even meet each other, a bond the program tries to enhance as it sends fellow Sun Devils around the globe.

“[There’s] the camaraderie that builds from going on a trip with folks that think like you or have experiences like you and simply bleed maroon and gold,” Holsman-Tetreault said in the podcast.

Trips range from around one to two weeks each, and cost anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000 depending on length and location. Meals, transport, lodging and activities are pre-planned and included in the cost, the goal being a hassle-free trip for alumni.

The travel program itself has been running for more than 20 years. The recent name change and travel modifications are the latest in a continuing series of updates and adjustments to keep the service in line with the Alumni Association’s aims and vision. But as Holsman-Tetreault noted, the fundamental goals of the program have remained the same.

“It’s an engagement opportunity, a way for alumni to connect with other Sun Devils,” she said. “And the other important aspect of the travel program, again from the very beginning stages, was that it was an educational opportunity for alumni to come and learn about things so that Sun Devils continue to be curious and intellectual.”

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