Featured Traveler: Doug Byrnes

The Center for International Understanding, through its many programs, has given North Carolina teachers and community leaders the opportunity to travel all over the globe. They have gained perspectives on education and community building in other countries, and applied that knowledge to their own communities throughout North Carolina. More than 8,000 individuals have traveled to 48 countries with a CIU delegation. In this special blog series, we’ll feature delegates that are making a difference in their community and applying what they learned from a CIU program. 

This month, we get to know Doug Byrnes, Eighth Grade social studies teacher at Kannapolis Middle School.


Latino Initiative, 1999

What have you gained from your program?

I have gained a greater appreciation for the road traveled by many of my students and their families before they arrived in my classroom.

How have you applied what you learned?

Other than presenting a group presentation to my school and school board with my fellow travelers from my system, I have attempted to speak to all first-year teachers concerning the background of new students and the types of schools I experienced during my visit to Mexico.

I was able to visit both rural and urban schools in Mexico. In both of these settings we saw public and private schools. The differences were amazing! The needs of some of the poorer schools are incredible. A lack of running water, electricity, or school supplies is very common. New students might have experienced these types of dilemmas when they attended school in Mexico, so it’s important to understand that experience.

Additionally, I have reached out to students and their families to share my own travel experiences from the program and the support was outstanding.

What was your “ah ha” moment?

My “ah ha” moment came on my trip to Mexico when, during my stay with my host, I went to a wedding. Seeing a traditional Mexican wedding was special as I was able to observe the unwritten roles during this significant event.

Why is CIU’s Latino Initiative Program important to North Carolina?

North Carolina is becoming more and more of a global environment and the program allows more people to become aware of this.

Advice for future travelers:

My advice to future travelers is that during this program, you need to try everything! Never stay in when you are tired or want to rest.