2013: The Year in Review

Another whirlwind year has come to a close. While we welcome the adventures that 2014 will inevitably bring, we want to reflect on 2013 with our annual Highlights List  featuring the events, destinations, and people that made this year so incredible.

Spanning the Globe: Several education and law groups enjoyed professional exchanges with counterparts in Myanmar, and demand remained strong in Cuba, where we facilitated over 50 people-to-people and professional groups to Havana and points beyond. Europe was bustling with a renewed interest in the prehistoric caves in southwestern France, an exploration of Downton Abbey film locations, a family adventure in Switzerland, and a look at the legacy of Olympic Park in London. Close to home, art lovers descended on Seattle’s rich art scene and enjoyed visits to private collections.


Giving Back: Staff volunteered their time and talents this year in a variety of ways, and for two charities close to our hearts. The Fund for Education Abroad (http://www.fundforeducationabroad.org/) benefited from Team CET’s run in the Cherry Blossom 10K in the spring.

Meanwhile, five ATA staff members volunteered for Tourism Cares (http://www.tourismcares.org/) joining 600 other tourism professionals to clean up Coney Island, New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.


We share our story! ATA produced a new corporate video this year. Partners shared their experiences working with ATA and their stories of meaningful and engaging travel that the trips brought to others.

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New Faces:  We welcomed a great group of professionals this year!

From top left to the right: Tim Ambrose,

Top left to right: Tim Ambrose, Sales Director; Megan Horrigan, CET Intern; Stacie Kellerman, Tour Communications Specialist; Joan O’Neill, Tour Communications Specialist; Kara Nichols, FEA Fundraising & Admin Coordinator; Kevin Hoercher, Reservations Specialist; Kimberly Sine, CET Middlebury in China Programs Manager; CET Hector Cruz-Feliciano, Brazil Programs Manager. Bottom left to right: Natalie Pascale, Tour Communications Specialist; Shelley Jessee, CET Director of Marketing; Allegra O’Donoghue, CET Middle East & North Africa Programs Manager; Leya Brown, Reservations Specialist.

Significant Milestones: In January, President Kate Simpson celebrated 25 years at ATA. Overseeing a company engaged in constant evolution, she reminisced about the many companies she has served, all while working at ATA. Never a dull moment, even after 25 years!

Kate Simpson

In May, we celebrated Dave Parry’s 80th birthday. The party was an extended family reunion, a real who’s who of ATA staff and clients who were here in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and in more recent years.


None of our successes would be possible without the partners and travelers we serve, and the dedicated tour managers and colleagues we consider part of our ATA family. We are grateful for all of you this holiday season!


Happy Holidays!
Chase Poffenberger
Executive Vice President


Select All of Your Travel Partners Wisely

Academic Travel blogThe story of how travel was disrupted in Europe because of the erupting Icelandic volcano is almost a thing of the past now. Most travelers have made it home and transatlantic air travel is pretty much back to normal.

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal posed the question, “Is Travel Insurance Worth the Cost?” ( read more here )

This is a timely question, as American travelers are now assessing the unexpected additional costs they incurred. If they were traveling with a group, they are also assessing how their tour provider cared for them while they waited in limbo for the skies to clear and the runways to reopen.

For its part, Academic Travel Abroad kept its tour staff in place in two countries to ride out the delay with travelers, even though the tours had ended. ATA and its partners picked up the cost of some additional hotel nights, meals and additional activities. Travelers, understanding that they would also need to contribute to the costs, made the most of their additional days in London and Amsterdam.

Izabella Van Raalte, a long time ATA tour manager, summed up her feelings in a recent e-mail to Senior Program Manager Emma Impavido, who coordinated the company’s response and efforts to re-book travelers quickly with the help of Whitney Kulesz, Director of Travel Services:

“Thank you very much for being such a wonderful support on my recent tour. At all times I felt that I could bank on you 100 % and that you would come through which indeed you did. I looked forward to your daily “check in” phone call. ATA’s response to my request for help in getting hotel rooms at the eleventh hour was amazing. As I already told you it gave me great pleasure to be able to announce that ATA had managed to procure hotel rooms so quickly.

Emma, could you please also thank the whole team involved in back stopping for the great job they did. It takes a team to make a tour a success and I certainly felt as part of one and a great one at that.”

Academic Travel Abroad and its partner organizations actively promote the benefits of travel insurance to customers to protect their investment when the unexpected happens. Those travelers who purchased trip cancellation and delay coverage for their tours will be able to make substantial claims for reimbursement.

While none of us ever imagines ourselves the victim of a travel delay or mishap, the volcanic ash situation has reminded travelers how important it is to pick all of their travel partners wisely—from the tour company that makes the safety and well being of it customers its top priority, to the insurance company that stands by its coverage, and to the travel agent who swiftly and efficiently re-books passengers while airline websites and help lines crash through overuse.

Academic Travel Abroad

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Haitian Tragedy & the American Red Cross

Academic Travel Abroad was devastated to hear about the tragic earthquake that struck Haiti a week ago.  Our most heartfelt sorrows go out to those who have lost so much in the recent days since the quake.  With so many lost, injured and rendered without homes, proper food and adequate medical supplies, our staff have been quick to show their support by donating contributions to the American Red Cross.  Academic Travel Abroad as a company has also made a contribution in hopes that these funds will reach the shores of Haiti and somehow bring some element of assistance to those who need it most in the wake of such a unimaginable natural disaster.

We would also like implore our community of travel enthusiasts and readers to also act quickly and offer your assistance to the people of Haiti.  Below is the American Red Cross’s website link where anyone may go to, not only offer their donations, but also can specifically select to which natural disaster or cause you would like to have your contributions go to.

Donate Now to the American Red Cross by clicking here

Our thoughts and prayers are with those in Haiti in such a terrible time.

Academic Travel Abroad

Academic Travel Abroad & Professionals Abroad

On December 1st, I watched as President Obama announced his intention to send an additional 30,000 US troops into Afghanistan to create a “surge” and hopefully end the war. In November, I watched as President Obama made his first visit to China and to Russia. I watched as our world leaders celebrated the twenty year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and later communism in Eastern Europe. I watched as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton visited the Middle East, seeking peace between Israel and Palestine. All of these events happening over the last 90 days.

Coincidentally, the last 90 days have marked the launching of Professionals Abroad, a new arm of Academic Travel Abroad. The Mission of Professionals Abroad is to provide an avenue for global professional counterparts to share one–on–one, their professional challenges and experiences. Selected teams of professionals, representing their associations will travel to host countries and participate in round table discussions, site visits and social events. All with the goal of learning more about the lives of their counterparts and to gain an understanding of the culture and history of the countries they visit.

Imagine mental health professionals and grief counselors traveling to the epicenter of the earth quake in China, to discuss Disaster Mental Health with the teams of Chinese professionals who are helping the people of this rural area to deal with their devastating loss. Imagine global water environment professionals meeting in Israel to discuss the advances and challenges faced by the Israeli people to ensure clean and abundant water supplies. Imagine a team of professional and academic women representing many of the top institutions in United States, traveling to the Middle East to meet with political and academic women leaders. Further, imagine a team of undergraduate future women leaders traveling along side their mentors, learning and preparing for success in the globalized world. This is Professionals Abroad, and these are just a few of the teams launched for 2010.

As the Director of Professionals Abroad, my vision is to see these teams of professionals gain unparalleled access to their counterparts globally. Through this access, individual citizens can support the missions of our nation’s leaders, as we seek to ensure global peace, and to establish the individual personal relationships necessary to ensure cooperation and lasting professional friendships.

Dawn Davis
Professional Abroad

New Professionals Abroad website coming in January.

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ATA to Launch New “Professionals Abroad” Division


Professionals Abroad debuts on September 1, 2009

Washington, DC, September 2009—Academic Travel Abroad, a 59-year old international travel company that has served the country’s elite non-profit organizations, museums, and universities in operating specialized educational and cultural programs, will launch a new sales division on September 1st.

Professionals Abroad will develop and market high quality international professional programs to associations for their members’ career development, continuing education and cultural enrichment. These programs will provide an opportunity for associations to engage in counterpart exchange and international outreach.  Dawn Davis, formerly the Executive Director of Citizen Ambassador Program, a division of the People to People Ambassador Program in Spokane, Washington, will lead the Professionals Abroad team. Dawn brings over twenty years of experience with professional delegations to ATA, and maintains strong relationships with many of the country’s largest professional organizations.

ATA has ensured its long term stability through diversification of its portfolio. In 1994, ATA acquired CET Academic Programs, a premier study abroad organization. In 2005, ATA acquired Grandtravel, the originator of travel programs designed exclusively for grandparents and grandchildren. In addition, the company manages the reservation and customer service centers for National Geographic Expeditions, Smithsonian Journeys, and The American Museum of Natural History’s Expeditions, as well as managing the overall AMNH tour program as the Museum’s outsource partner.

“We are delighted to be entering a new market,” said Chase Poffenberger, ATA’s Executive Vice President. “Dawn Davis brings a wealth of energy, creativity and professionalism to the company and we feel fortunate that she will be leading our new division.” While Dawn will reside in Washington State, she will travel to ATA’s offices in Washington, DC regularly and collaborate with ATA’s marketing, programming and customer service teams.

To learn more about this program, contact:

Chase Poffenberger
Executive Vice President
Academic Travel Abroad

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ATA on Facebook

India: Discovering The Living Arts

A visit to the studio of R.B. Bhaskeran for talks on Modern Art Movements in India

A visit to the studio of R.B. Bhaskeran for talks on Modern Art Movements in India

India ranks very high on the “life lists” of many travelers, including the group of museum professionals and ATA staff who set out in early June to learn about India’s booming contemporary art scene, which has its roots in a 5,000 year artistic tradition.

India is “exotic” in a way quite unlike any other place on earth. It was a sensory overload, a spiritual experience, and a mystical, bedazzling riot of colors and activity—all at the same time. Braving India’s summer heat, we were rewarded with virtually tourist-free sights and monuments.

Our exhilarating journey to Chennai, Agra and Delhi provided us with an exciting curriculum in the living arts, as well as an introduction to the India’s most important art movements, archeological treasures, and architectural monuments. For eight days, we had the distinct pleasure of discussing art and culture with painters, dancers, musicians and an extraordinary archeologist. We left India hungry for more, knowing we had just scratched the surface of a rich, multi-layered artistic tradition.

There were so many highlights to cherish on this trip!

First, the artists. Kuntal Desai and R B Bhaskeran in Chennai generously opened their homes to us, giving us a very personal look at their work and inspiration. We also visited several artists’ villages, and a state-sponsored artist studio in Delhi.

Then there were the musicians and dancers, who demonstrated the power of oral tradition in India culture, and sang and played beautiful music on traditional instruments.

And of course, we were awe-struck at the Taj Mahal, where we spent two hours examining this most famous example of Mughal architecture. We also spent time at the temples of Mahabalipuram, built between the 7th and 9th century.

To see a slideshow of our tour, click here

To see a few of our trip videos, click here

Academic Travel Abroad’s website

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CET Teams Up with Smithsonian Journeys

Student group in Beijing

Student group in Beijing

CET is excited to announce a new avenue for high school students looking for unique study abroad opportunities for 2010. CET has now teamed up with Smithsonian Journeys and will offer study programs in Spain, Italy, and China for 2010.

CET Academic Programs is a private study abroad organization based in Washington, DC that has been designing and administering innovative educational programs abroad since 1982. CET is known for their high academic standards, innovative approaches to teaching and careful student management. Their programs integrate students into their overseas communities and lead them to create lasting relationships with their local hosts. Staffed by over 40 full-time employees in the US and abroad, CET currently sends around 1000 US students abroad annually.

Smithsonian Journeys will be offering Smithsonian Studies Abroad programs in Italy, Spain, and China summer programs geared specifically to high school students looking to take advantage of the benefits of studying abroad programs.

Students in Avila, Spain

Students in Avila, Spain

These programs will include;

Rigorous courses of study led by highly qualified teaching staff.

All programs feature a language component, cultural explorations, sightseeing, and weekend excursions.

Student accommodations feature modern facilities, internet service, most meals, and a dedicated full-time residential staff.

More about the programs;

• Florence, Italy –Renaissance Treasures

Florence offers an ideal location for students to study Italy’s rich artistic and cultural legacy. Surrounded by brilliant art and architecture, students will be uniquely immersed in contemporary Tuscan life with many opportunities to practice their language skills.

• Avila, Spain – Life in a Medievil Walled City

Located halfway between Madrid and Salamanca, medieval Avila is recognized as one of Spain’s most distinguished centers of learning. Students will strengthen existing Spanish skills during a comprehensive cultural course at the University of Salamanca.

• Beijing, China – The Heart of Imperial and Modern China

The Beijing program focuses on China’s extraordinary past and present. Students will reside at China’s top-rated Capital Normal University, located just outside of Beijing. Students will study Chinese politics, economics, history, and environmental policies, and gain a foundation in Chinese language.

To learn more, visit www.smithsonianjourneys.org

Also visit CET’s website to learn more here: www.cetacademicprograms.com