The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

‘It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience’

Junior discovers her passion for travel
This was one of the defining moments for Carrillo’s travelling adventure. Ever since her trip to Greece, she’s wanted to pursue travelling.

It was the light shining over the horizon that did it. The Athens mountains fading into the clear skies and the buildings small, all over the marble pantheon. She felt like she could see the world.

“It was almost symbolic, being able to see so much,” junior Rachel Carrillo said. “I remember sitting there, thinking about how this was such a special moment and realizing that this is what I wanted to do: I want to see the world.”

Carrillo first traveled abroad in 2022 when she went to Greece during spring break of her freshman year. She heard from a friend about this opportunity andー being a fan of “Mamma Mia”ー decided to go.

“It was honestly really incredible and just so eye-opening,” she said. “I realized how much that I love to travel and how much that I love to see the world, so I ended up signing up for more that summer.”

Story continues below advertisement

Carrillo has grown up traveling. Her parents, particularly her mother, have regular trips overseas for work or other events. Seeing sparks in her daughter’s eyes, Carrillo’s mother emboldened Carrillo to continue traveling.

“She was on board because she knows it’s something I really love,” Carrillo said. “I’m very grateful for her and that I’m able to have these opportunities, having people to encourage and allow me to go to all of these places.”

Every spring, the school works with Education First (EF) to give students the opportunity to travel across countries. Since 2000, EF has hosted 27 tours with 445 Bellaire students, parents and teachers. Carrillo has now traveled to Greece, France andー just last yearー Ireland, Wales and England.

English teacher and travel abroad coordinator Elizabeth Chapman said Carrillo has the mindset of a traveler; someone who is open minded, flexible and an active learner.

“If she’s not traveling, she’s reading,” said Chapman, who coordinates all the EF trips and traveled with Carrillo this past summer. “In all of the down time that we had, she would be cracking open a book and that tells me that she’s a true learner. That she wants to read the book of the world.”

In Carrillo’s trip to France in the last week of June 2022, the group had a bit of a delay, but was able to fly to Paris, taking a bus to the south to visit Nimes, Carcassonne, Cases and Monaco. Their return flight to Canada was delayed. When they finally landed, the Bellaire group found themselves having to run through the Montreal airport, but missed their connection to Houston by five minutes.

“It was less about the worry of going home and more about, ‘Yes, I’m stuck in another country, but I’m with people that I love,’” Carrillo said.

On the 2023 Spring UK trip, Carrillo traveled to Dublin, Ireland. Wales, Scotland and finally London. Carrillo said one of her favorite moments was sitting in a circular booth in the hotel’s restaurant with her new group of friends. While they were stuck in London for an extra two days due to the pilot falling ill, they had what she called an “an impromptu therapy session.”

“I thought, ‘I am forever going to love these people’ because of how much we bled our hearts to each other,” Carrillo said. “I think about that moment a lot and how everyone was able to be so vulnerable to each other. Because of the vulnerability we were able to really get closer and share this passion for one another.”

This spring, Carrillo looks forward to the mystery itinerary of a trip to Spain. For anyone who wants to go on their own travels, her advice is to set a goal and make a plan.

If a student wishes to travel through EF, they can visit Chapman in Room 2712 for more information

“You can always get more money because that’s a material thing,” Carrillo said. “But experience: it’s a one-time thing. Even if I go back to Greece, I’ll have a completely different experience than I first did. Experiences are a form of currency on their own, and sometimes experiences are more valuable than currency in itself.”

View Comments (2)
More to Discover

Comments (2)

All Three Penny Press Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • S

    saraJan 12, 2024 at 11:41 pm


  • K

    KericeJan 8, 2024 at 8:54 pm

    Ahhh Rachel you ate that so eloquently!!!