Main navigation

We Are Teachers

Teaching Future Citizens

Teaching students about war is more than a moral obligation. It’s an act of citizenship, a vote for the future. We believe a better world is possible. Hands-on learning from history defines why the past – with its parade of achievements and errors – holds positive potential. We are teachers at Peace Works Travel – passionate-yet-practical visionaries who know that students engage when it matters. Put a human face on a complex foreign policy, a business plan for genocide-survivors, or landmark civil rights legislation and watch students grab on to lifelong discovery. Our experiential learning abroad program in countries recovering from conflict thrives with ten-years of relationships with local people, sustainable enterprises and student travelers who return home forever inspired. Our itineraries invite travelers to explore as “temporary locals,” side-by-side with notable survivors, activists and social entrepreneurs. Our integrated curriculum gives voice to the consequences of human action. Traveling, learning, creating: students understand the meaning of “Never Again” while finding their power to generate solutions for a more stable world. Join us…and give your students a chance to become ethical, engaged citizens of a global community.


Alethea Tyner Paradis, J.D., Director

Alethea Tyner Paradis, a history teacher, founded Peace Works Travel in 2005. Witnessing how academic achievement and student interest increased with experiential-service learning, she wanted to give her students an immersive educational experience lacking in mainstream classrooms.

“It occurred to me and other like-minded educators that our nation hadn’t learned many important lessons from our controversial military adventures in SE Asia.”

Recognizing a need for meaningful experiential education about the legacy of warfare, Alethea Tyner Paradis developed an integrative program that invites students to understand war–and the benefits of negotiated peace–from the perspective of people who live with its aftermath. Alethea has taught high school and college social sciences courses focused in social justice since 1997. (B.A. in history and teaching credential from the University of California, Santa Barbara, 1994; Juris Doctorate from Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College, 1998). She has led groups of students through Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia. In addition to directing Peace Works Travel, Alethea provides consultation for independent schools instituting their own global education programs and teaches history courses at Santa Barbara City College.  She is blessed to live locally with her extraordinary husband and delightful son.

Ilse Westerik, Marketing Manager

Ilse Westerik comes to Peace Works Travel with a truly global mindset. She is a Dutch native with a passion for brands and different cultures. She loves to travel and her favorite countries so far are Argentina, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Italy. She moved with husband and kids to Santa Barbara 3 years ago, and is very inspired by how this experience of diving into a new culture changes your perspective. Her expertise lies in Marketing Strategy and Campaign & Brand Management. She completed her Bachelor’s in International Business Studies in The Netherlands and the UK, with a major in International Marketing. The last 15 years Ilse managed marketing for premium brands such as Durex, Haagen-Dazs, and The Laughing Cow in Europe. Ilse has just expanded her knowledge with the Post-Baccalaureate Program in Psychology at Berkeley Extension. Her inquisitive and creative mind is always searching for new ideas to connect. One of her other strengths is empathy and she strongly believes in the fantastic work of Peace Works Travel by together making this world a more compassionate place through impactful educational travel.

Alex Gomez, Ph.D., Latin American Program Manager

“I am connected to the Latin root of educate, which means to lead out. And as an educator, I do work with others in leading out, broadening and challenging minds.”

Born in Barranquilla, Colombia Alex comes to Peace Works Travel with 13 years of teaching experience. Alex identifies himself as a holistic educator, focusing his research on cross-border issues, trans-border folk art, and internal displacement of people within Cuba. He has a B.A in history and an M.A in Latin American Literature from San Diego State University. He taught USA-Mexico international Border and many courses on cross cultural education at San Diego State Univesity. In 2009, he received a Ph.D in partnership with the National Center in Peace and Conflict studies at the University of Otago, the Uppssala University and Iberoamericano International Institute. He grew up spending time in nature, hiking and trekking in La Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta with his father and sisters. He brings this love of the outdoors to his commitment to educating by leading expeditions for young people in the mountains of Colombia and the USA-Mexico border at De Anza Borrego Desert that are designed to educate and challenge them.

Jasmine Jarman, Client Support Manager

Jasmine comes to Peace Works Travel with 5 years of leadership and customer service experience. She began her education as a film major but after taking a history course focused on Women in America, she felt compelled to continue studying history. She believes that travel and education are two of the best ways to open hearts and minds to a peaceful, compassionate world. Her academic points of interests are the history of science, social justice, and gender studies. Jasmine is working on her B.A. in History from University of California, Santa Barbara, to be completed in 2018.

Laurel Anderson, M.A., Operations Strategist

Laurel Anderson assists with the strategic planning and process development of various business operations. She comes to us with a decade of program development and management experience. She earned her Masters in Youth Development Leadership (Sociology with a focus on adolescence) from Clemson University and has worked to apply that knowledge in settings that benefit both youth and adults alike. As a young person, she studied abroad in both high school and college to Argentina and Italy respectively. Such travel was so instrumental in her development, she now recommends travel for everyone, youth and adult!

Eric Taylor, M.A., Teacher Leader

Eric Taylor recognizes the importance of educating students outside the context of the immediate classroom, community, and culture of the United States as a means of forging a more competent future citizenry. As the classroom continues to evolve into a boundary-less space in an ever-digitizing age, Eric Taylor sees experiential education beyond the traditional school environment as a profound means by which to develop empathy, understanding, and curiosity in today’s young people. Especially interested in developing programs that inform how to privilege cooperation before competition, sustainability before triviality, Eric works to develop programs abroad at the grassroots that encourage international cooperation, institutional exchange, and student enrichment. Eric currently is a Social Studies Teacher at Francis Parker School in San Diego, teaching courses focused on social justice and ethical responsibility. (B.A. in history from UC Santa Barbara, 1997; M.A. in history from San Diego State University, 2002; M.A. in history from Northwestern University, 2003; ABD in history from University of Pennsylvania, 2011.) Eric has been a Global Studies Trip coordinator since 2009, and has led student groups to Southeast Asia and Latin America. He lives in San Diego with his wife and their two children.

Valérie Lent, M.A., Teacher Leader

Born in France where she received her B.A in English and a Graduate Degree in Linguistics, Valerie Lent has 31 years of teaching experience. She has taught junior high through college level French and English courses in Scotland, France, the US, and China. Valerie is also an alumna of the prestigious Fulbright program, designed, in the senator’s own words, to “promote international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture and science.”

Since 1985, Valérie, has led educational and cultural tours for Vivalangues and Arts et Vie Voyages Culturels while teaching in France. After immigrating to the U.S., she has chaperoned trips through Europe, Vietnam, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Thailand, Greece, Turkey, the Czech Republic…. and the USA.

Valérie continues in this vein as an International Baccalaureate teacher at Dos Pueblos High School in California. The mission statement of the IB organization reflects Valerie’s personal hopes and professional goals “The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.”

Kevin Shertzer, M.A., Teacher Leader

“Traveling with students is deeply rewarding. It adds a sophistication to both learning and teaching which can only be achieved through the shared experience of discovery.”

Kevin has been leading Peace Works Travel since 2005. A Yale graduate of history with an emphasis in global conflict, Kevin’s interest in historical warfare and the post-Holocaust promises of “Never Again” inspired him to pursue a career in education. He earned a Master’s in Education from University of California Santa Barbara, in 2001 and has been teaching social science courses at Laguna Blanca School while coaching CIF-winning soccer teams.

Kevin’s insistence upon rigorous academic standards, critical investigation, and morality make him a profoundly effective instructor both in the classroom and abroad.

Susan Snyder, M.A., Teacher Leader

I love the enthusiasm and curiosity of students on a trip. Traveling with young people is inspiring. It allows me to view the world through their eyes and learn with them, side-by-side.

An award-winning guidance counselor at Santa Barbara High School, Susan is known for her adventurous globe-trotting: she has explored nearly 50 countries on educational adventures.

A former math and science teacher and university instructor, Susan has 20 years’ experience as an impactful educator, including one year teaching in Spain. Susan has a B.A. in Biology, teaching credentials in four subjects, and an M.A. and credential in Counseling. As a counselor, Susan specializes in empowering disadvantaged students to navigate the road to college.

“A mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes

Michael Hernandez, M.F.A., Digital Storytelling Instructor

An internationally acclaimed member of the Journalism Education Association, Apple Distinguished Educator and Google for Education Certified Innovator, Michael has been widely recognized for his excellence.

Founder of the nationally award-winning Media Arts program at Mira Costa High School in 1999, students in Michael’s film and broadcast journalism courses produce powerful cinematic work for local and national audiences. Michael has led student documentary film-making programs to Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, Guatemala and within the United States.