Mrs. Worldwides


Emily Tolcer and Briana Koontz

Traveling is a universal passion of many people today. Many dream of places they want to see with their own eyes someday. Whether they want to try the food, speak the language, or just go sightseeing, it’s very intriguing to many. Additionally, learning about the people we see every day, our teachers, is also intriguing. Since March is Women’s History Month, this article takes a deep dive into the travels of some of our favorite female teachers, how it changed them for the better, and how it affects their teaching today.  

Cristina Meldrum, a Spanish teacher at Lake Shore High School, talked about her trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, when she was in college. She had always had a passion for the Spanish language and was invited to tag along on her friend’s family trip. Meldrum quickly made friends with the people who worked at her hotel.  

“Their English was as broken as my Spanish,” Meldrum said.

Being able to practice with them helped her tremendously. Since she spoke the language she was able to communicate with the sellers on the street and appreciate the culture with a deeper understanding. The food she ate there was one of the most memorable aspects.

Meldrum said, “I will never look at Taco Bell the same.” 

Meldrum talked about the people and their encouragement of her being a foreigner trying to speak the language. 

“They are just as excited as we are when someone is learning English,” Meldrum said.

She also mentioned that she never felt unsafe abroad. The only time she felt unsafe while traveling was the flight on a tiny plane to get to her destination.

Meldrum said, “That small jet plane, I would be happy never experiencing again.”

The main takeaway from this interview was the realization this trip brought her. She expressed that she struggled a lot with her decision and after not being happy with her initial major she went back to school to become a Spanish teacher. 

“Going into teaching is the best decision I ever made, it made me realize that this is where I’m supposed to be,” Meldrum said.

Her passion for the language and culture was the main driving force, “It made me realize that maybe I do want to pursue Spanish…..the music, the people, the food, and then learning the language and seeing that I could do it gave me more confidence,” Meldrum said.

Colleen Tharme, an English teacher at Lake Shore, has a very heartwarming story connected to her travels. 

Her story is rooted in love, “I stayed there for a month and ended up getting married, and I’m still married,” Tharme said.

She met her husband through pen palling. One day she decided to visit him in the UK and it was a match made in heaven. He came here to visit her, but then it was her time to go visit him.

During that month, they got married. Her parents were supportive when they got the news. 

“Getting married in England? Fine, cause I was the youngest of six. She was pretty much done. I called her and said ‘ma, we’re getting married,’ and she was like ‘what?’”

Budgeting was a major concern. Traveling to a new country can get extremely expensive.  During the summer, tickets along with hotels can become thousands of dollars.  Thankfully, they were able to get around these costly pitfalls. 

Tharme said, “Waiting for the off-season plane tickets, the sales.  We’re lucky enough he’s a former military and there’s a hotel just for the military.  People in London and it’s half the price of other hotels and it’s really nice.  We would probably struggle to take trips if it wasn’t for that.”

She has been back to England many times, and while she was there she visited a couple of extraordinary places. 

During a side trip, one of the countries she visited was Belfast, Ireland, “We did a Game Of Thrones tour and we were walking on these cliffs and that was really cool,” Tharme said.

Another well-known traveler in the school is Kristi Stuckey, an English teacher at Lake Shore. Her travels spanned all over Europe. She even lived in London for 6 months. 

Her college friend was doing an internship and wanted someone to go along with, “After I graduated, I boarded a plane,” Stuckey said.

While living in London, she took many side trips, her travels included Dublin, Ireland; Rome, Italy; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Munich, Germany. 

She supported her travels by earning a work visa for England and having a job at both a publishing company and an event planning company. 

She also worked many hours before her trip, “I picked up extra shifts, 40 hours a week,” Stuckey said.

One of the most surprising things about her story is her supportive parents, they were fully for her decision. 

Stuckey stated, “They were very supportive, I’ve always been somebody to take on an adventure or take a risk – they weren’t going to pay for me but they were supportive of me going.”

The imagery she expressed about her trip was beautiful, and the way she talks about her memories can inspire anyone, “At night, Rome was all lit up, we were on the Vespas, eating gelato and pizza,” Stuckey said.

Her flat was very small, “Not even as big as a hotel room.” Stuckey said.

However, she didn’t mind her living conditions in London, she prioritized her travels, and that was what held value for her. That somewhat uncomfortable situation has become a funny memory.

One memorable experience that stood out in her interview was the time she missed her flight in Germany and the kindness of the gate attendant. This woman, Rosa, saw Stuckey and her friend’s situation and opened up her home to them. 

A fear of many young travelers is the reception citizens will have for foreigners.  Through all these stories, it’s clear that most people are extremely welcoming to people visiting their country.  These strong women during these travels showed how alert and safe you can be while still having fun. Nonetheless, being careful in an unknown place and always being aware, is some of the most important advice there is for people hoping to travel.