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The Student News Site of St Joseph's Academy

The Voice

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The Voice

The Student News Site of St Joseph's Academy

The Voice

Mrs. Lodes’s Trip Of A Lifetime

Mrs. Lodes stands by the National Geographic Resolution, the ship she sails the East China Sea on.

Last month, Mrs. Katie Lodes of the science department packed her bags and set sail on the East China Sea for a trip she will never forget. Accepted for a Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship through National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions, she was one of a small number of teachers selected as a candidate for this excursion. She traveled from Okinawa, Japan, down the Ryūkyū-ko Islands, and finished in Taipei, Taiwan. This experience enabled her to bring a global perspective back to St. Joseph’s Academy to enhance the knowledge of students and teachers. 

Lodes first heard of this opportunity through a friend who had gone to Antarctica with the same program. As a biologist, she had always wanted to go to the Galapagos Islands and found that they offered a trip there. She applied twice before the pandemic but was turned down each time. Mrs. Lodes felt that this might have happened because her real self was not portrayed in her application.

“I applied for it two times before… that time I don’t think I was really myself. I was letting people proofread it, and they changed a lot of things around, and I was really set on just looking at the Galapagos Islands back then, and that really narrowed it down,” said Mrs. Lodes.

Yet, she was determined to get selected. On the third try, she decided to increase her chances for selection by adding Greenland, Antarctica, and Japan alongside the Galapagos as possible destinations. Furthermore, she made an effort to better display her personality and highlight her background and skills in both the written portion and the video included in the application. 

Ms. Lodes watches the spectacular sunrise with the morning crew aboard her ship. (Unknown)

Lodes received the acceptance message that she was invited to attend the trip to Japan in September. She was one of 50 teachers out of hundreds who were selected across the US and Canada to participate in this spectacular journey. Lodes describes her reasoning for applying and how she benefited from the experience. 

“I just knew it would be a great opportunity for me to see a different place, to be more aware of different cultures and different people, and then also bring that back to school and try to inspire students and teachers to try to get out there and explore our world,” said Mrs. Lodes.

On September 16th, Mrs. Lodes boarded an overnight flight to Okinawa, Japan. She then transferred to nearby Kobe, where she checked into her hotel and greeted her fellow travelers. The trip started off with a visit to Himeji Castle, a breathtaking display of Japanese architecture. That afternoon, Lodes and her group boarded the National Geographic ship, where she would stay for the majority of the trip. Lodes describes her initial thoughts and how they contradicted the actual experience.

Snorkeling was Ms. Lodes’ favorite activity on the trip. (Unknown)


“It didn’t go at all like I thought… I thought it would be a lot more science-oriented, and there were some things like the coral, the snorkeling…but we also went to a lot of shrines and cultural areas,” Lodes explains.

Throughout the trip, she described having a sense that God is a part of every culture, no matter the religion or location. She described a few religions that she experienced, including the Shinto religion, which was largely nature-oriented, and Buddhism, which were both integral in Japan. Additionally, in Taiwan, she learned about Taoism (sometimes called Daoism), which is centered around the idea of finding God through nature, similar to Japanese Shinto. Lodes further elaborates on her own thoughts about the religions and cultures she had witnessed.

“I just felt this overwhelming sense that…God was out there, just using every channel possible to be like, ‘I love you’… and it was not something I expected to see. I always see God in nature, but I was just astounded by that,” Lodes said. 

Another favorite aspect of her trip was the people. Because of the limited cellular use, she was unable to keep in contact with others in her group throughout the trip; however, she often took time to connect with those around her during meals and downtime. She recalls the people around her were very engaged with everything they were learning together, sharing similar interests, which helped her to bond with her companions.

Every day, Lodes embarked on unique adventures, ready to learn and experience new things. She had ventured into historic buildings and areas, strolled around scenic areas, visited museums, hiked into diverse climates, and enjoyed stunning beaches. She tried new foods, which were largely fresh seafood, and experienced a completely different, yet in some ways similar, culture. Most importantly, Lodes valued the opportunity to have unique experiences that were both enjoyable and educational.

Ms. Lodes participates in a Taiwanese tea ceremony. (Unknown)

Overall, she believes the trip to be life-changing, and she brings that back to St. Joseph’s Academy. One way she did this was by sending quizzes to the students of SJA that support their well-rounded, global education. Lodes describes that she had noticed an interconnectedness in her experiences that relates to things students learn in their curriculum.

“There’s so much at St. Joe that overlaps. That’s why I did the quizzes because I was out there going, ‘Wait, this is something from math class’…and on the flight over I was like, ‘Oh, this is a physics problem’…I felt like St. Joe is very global oriented, and we just kinda forget about that,” said Lodes. 

If given the chance, Lodes says that she would take another trip in a heartbeat. She recommends other teachers  give it a shot because the opportunity to expand scientific knowledge while learning about new cultures and then share that experience with fellow teachers and students alike was more than worth it. Having a ‘try-again mindset’ is how she was able to succeed, so she advises others to not give up on their goals.

Lodes felt that this trip was the opportunity of a lifetime. She met new people, acquired new knowledge, and had several unique, stunning encounters with both culture and nature. She hopes to share her newfound knowledge with the students and teachers of St. Joseph’s Academy and work toward a more diverse and aware community. 

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About the Contributor
Annabel Gainey
Annabel Gainey, Senior Staff Writer
Annabel Gainey is a sophomore at St. Joe. As a Senior Staff Writer, she is enthusiastic about participating in the Voice this year. Aside from the Voice, Annabel is an Earth Angels officer, a Campus Ministry representative, and an Angel Ambassador, as well as a member of Global Scholars, Model UN, FBLA, Scholar Bowl, START, and Feminist Voices. Her favorite subjects include Mandarin, Math, and Computer Science. During her free time, she enjoys reading, playing piano, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.