Get to Know the TEACH Roadtrip Team

The Teach Roadtrip is more than halfway through! The team has already visited Yosemite, seen a bear (!), traveled a lot of miles and completed some incredible interviews. This week, they’ll be driving on the East Coast. Check out these fun facts about our road-trippers:



1) What’s your fave road trip snack? Tuna!

2) Where are you most excited to visit? New York. Always wanted to explore that city.

3) If you could only pack 1 item for this trip, what would it have been? All the food!

4) Favorite driving song? “Ignition” by R. Kelly

5) What’s your favorite book? Harry Potter series



1) What’s your fave road trip snack? Diet Coke

2) Where are you most excited to visit? Los Angeles and Denver

3) If you could only pack 1 item for this trip, what would it have been? A travel journal

4) Favorite driving song? “Maps” by The Front Bottoms

5) What’s your favorite book? The Phantom Tollbooth  



1) What’s your fave road trip snack? Hummus with anything and fruit

2) Where are you most excited to visit? Yosemite and Colorado!!!

3) If you could only pack 1 item for this trip, what would it have been? Chapstick!

4) Favorite driving song? “Runaway” by Los Pericos

5) What’s your favorite book? State of Wonder by Ann Patchett


Roadtrip Nation has collaborated with Participant Media’s TEACH Campaign to give these three road-trippers the opportunity to travel the country in our Green RV and interview some of the biggest names in education. For three weeks, they’ll be exploring the nation’s purple mountain majesties and speaking to educators who are working to change the world with their work. Stay tuned for updates on their adventures! And, join us on Friday, September 5 at the Newsuem in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the end of our tour with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan:


Here are some photos from their adventures thus far:


The Teach Roadtrip team poses for a photo after their interview with Rahm Emanuel.




The team takes in the beautiful scenery outside of Zion National Park.





The team being interviewed on Take Part Live!

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Design Roadtrip: Final Thoughts

8-26-2014_FB_DeisgnFinalThoughtsAfter 6355.4 miles, 21 states, and countless enlightening interviews, the Design Roadtrip has finally come to a close! It was an inspiring (and sometimes tiring!) 6-week journey in which three aspiring young designers traveled the country to interview the movers and shakers of the design world. From the sound designer for Star Wars to the creator behind Swiss Miss, to the animator who worked on Frozen, the road-trippers heard from passionate individuals in every cranny of design to see what’s possible for their own futures. Now that the trip is in their rear-view mirror, the team has had a chance to reflect on their take-aways, and we’ve asked them to share them with you! Here’s what Ben, Martha, and Sofaya learned this summer on the road:



Being on the road this summer was such an incredible experience. It truly opened my mind to more creative careers than I could have ever imagined. Design is everywhere, embedded in every business and continually pushing the limitations of creativity. From guitars to museums, clothing to water filters, computers to camp stoves, people and businesses are changing the world as we know it. I don’t know where I will find myself working in this realm of creativity, but I am more excited than ever to jump in.



When I look back at the enormous list of people that we talked to this summer, it is astounding to me the range of inspiring, engaging, creative, aware people that I feel proud to call designers. Each may not fit the conventional definition of the word, and I’m sure some would be hesitant to label themselves as such, but one of the most profound lessons that will stay with me from this experience is that whether someone is a musician or an educator, a chef or an animator, they each use the same type of inspiring creative process. The emphasis in our conversations across the country was not necessarily on what was being created, but on how it was being done. What inspired me most about each of our amazing leaders  (and this is a lifelong pursuit that I hope to continue to discover and emulate) was each of their abilities to, in their own way, connect disparate elements to create something new. Whether it was in bringing together their meandering life path to find a fulfilling, intersectional career, or combining different ways of looking at things in their work, I was inspired and amazed at the ways that people have found ways to be creative and to help build a better world. And they’re happy doing it! I think that what is special about the idea of design is that it is holistic: it is both for yourself and also for others; you can be happy and fulfilled and also work to change the world! Isn’t that what we all want?



I came into this road trip pretty well versed in design because that’s what I lived and breathed for the past four years. What you don’t necessarily learn in school, however, is the potential for impact in various arenas when you pair your design sensibility with your personal desire to change the world. This summer we’ve spoken to designers who’ve applied their designed objects in ways that enact social change, environmental change, change in the way that people do business, change in the relationship between the consumer and the product, and change in the daily lives of everyday people who may have been content in their lives until they suddenly got better. This to me is the true purpose of design: making someone’s life better by problem-solving.

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Things We Like To Do in Big Cities

Big City GuideRoadtrip Nation has meandered through most of the major cities in the US, and over the years we’ve accrued a lot of knowledge about where to go/eat/park a 35-foot vehicle. We like to think of ourselves as seasoned veterans of the road; sherpas of the pavement; stewards of turning down the absolute wrong street and stumbling upon an unreasonably delicious slice of pizza. We’ve logged over 10,000 miles on the road this summer alone, so after 15 years exploring the nation’s byways, here are our tips on what to do while you’re visiting Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago. Remember these spots the next time you plan a road trip!




City Guide: Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

1) Georgetown Cupcake: A delicious cupcake bakery founded by two sisters in DC (and featured on The Food Network), this is place where scarfing down one (or 3) frosting-topped mounds for breakfast won’t be frowned upon. Pro-trip: every morning, the bakery posts on their Twitter account about a secret flavor! If you’re one of the first 100 to request that flavor cupcake, you get it for free!


2) Try renting a bike! Capital Bikeshare is a company that rents out bikes at various stations throughout the city. We recommend picking one up for a requisite tour of the National Mall and monuments. Seeing all those sights by foot can be quite an endeavor, so it’s WAY easier and quicker to hop on one of these and roll around. These bikeshares are located all around town, and you can easily rent a bike at one station and return it to any other one that has an open spot.


3) Many of the monuments in DC are accessible/open all night long. Seeing them all lit up at night can be really special (plus it’s way less crowded in the evening).


4) Busboys and Poets is a historic restaurant founded by Andy Shallal in 2005 (you can check out our interview with Andy here). His mission for this restaurant was to have a gathering place for people of all different incomes, races, and identities to come together and exchange ideas about social and political issues. Today, Busboys and Poets remains a popular restaurant and community resource for artists, activists, writers, thinkers, and dreamers.




City Guide: New York City

New York City

1) Times Square is perhaps one of the most iconic areas of the city, and what tourists often imagine first when they think of NYC. What should you expect? Massive billboards, bright lights, and huge swarms of people! If you’re lucky, you’ll spot Robert Burck, a street performer we interviewed in 2007. He has been named by the New York State tourism department as “more recognizable than the Statue of Liberty.”


2) The High Line is a public park on the West Side of Manhattan. Built on a historic rail line, this park is free to the public and a great place to people watch/ picnic/ go for a stroll through some lovely gardens.


3) Visit the galleries in NYC’s Chelsea Neighborhood. Entrance is free, and you can see some spectacular exhibits! While you’re in the area, stop by Chelsea Market for a bite to eat. This urban market has something for everyone.


4) Looking for an inexpensive way to see the Statue of Liberty? Look no further than the Staten Island Ferry. Hop aboard (it’s free!) and you’ll get a great view of Lady Liberty. It also provides an interesting viewpoint from which to check out the NYC skyline.


5) The Meatball Shop: On our most recent road trip, we ate at The Meatball Shop four nights in a row. In a city with almost unlimited amounts of amazing cuisine, we just couldn’t quit this place. Give it a shot!




City Guide: San Francisco

 San Francisco

1) Golden Gate Bridge: this is one of the world’s most iconic pieces of scenery. Need we say more? You can rent bikes near the bridge if you’re interested in taking a scenic ride across it.


2) Hog Island Oyster Company: You’re in San Francisco, so you’ve got to try some seafood, right? With good food and great views, we recommend that you check this place out!


3) Haight Ashbury: This area is known for being a hub for the hippie movement in the 60s- the neighborhood was the home for the Summer of Love in 1967. Go to Haight Ashbury to soak in some American counterculture history!


4) Bi-Rite Creamery is possibly some of the best ice cream that we’ve tasted in the country. Smooth creaminess and wonderful flavor combinations will make your taste buds sing.


5) There are few better ways to see the city than jumping on a trolley.  While we typically recommend sightseeing in an RV, this is a great San Franciscan alternative. Hop on board and see the sights via this cool, old-school public transportation system.




City Guide: Chicago



1) You basically haven’t visited Chicago unless you’ve tried deep dish pizza. We recommend either Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s.


2) Millenium Park: You have to visit Millenium Park, if for no other reason than to get one of those goofy pictures of your reflection in Cloud Gate (also known as “The Bean”), a towering mirrored sculpture installation by Anish Kapoor. Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, this site has become iconic and was practically engineered for selflies. Plus, if you time it right, there are free symphonic concerts in the summer at an amphitheater in the park!


3) The Willis (Sears) Tower is the highest skyscraper in Chicago, and has an observation deck that’s not for the faint of heart. “The ledge” is a glass balcony where you can stand and take in the impressive view (from 1353 feet off the ground). Beware- those afraid of heights will not be fans.


4) Don’t miss Grant Park, a stretch of green space located downtown. It’s a great place to check out public art, the iconic Buckingham Fountain, and beautiful gardens. Love live music? The Lollapalooza music festival takes over Grant Park every summer!


Check out these spots on your next road trip!


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5 Outfits You Should Definitely Try While Road-Tripping


Road trip fashion is less about what color is “in” this season and more about comfort, functionality, and temperature control. That’s why we propose that you pack the following items for your next road trip!


1. Jorts (jean shorts): This is a standard road-tripping clothing item. Jorts basically scream, “I love driving around America.” Simply put, jeans+shorts= magic.


2. Yoga pants and t-shirt: When you rock this outfit, you are guaranteed a comfy ride. The t-shirt is a standard choice, and the yoga pants are stretchy and wonderful. Wear this get-up and you won’t be sorry.


3. Board shorts and tank: When you wear this combo you’re always prepared to take a swim! This is a smart choice, especially because showers are not always an “everyday” thing on the road. So, taking a dip in the ocean and/or taking the plunge into a nearby lake can be a great way to steer clear of B.O. Wearing board shorts on the road is straight-up practical.


4. Suit and tie: You’ll need this outfit for all those business meetings you’ll be attending whilst on the road. Just kidding. Don’t pack this. Duh.


5. Trucker hatThis isn’t an outfit, but it is a necessary accessory!

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First-Gen Roadtrip: Favorite Moments

The First-Gen Roadtrip is well on its way! The team has covered a lot of mileage, and interviewed some amazing folks along the way. We asked each of the road-trippers to share a little bit about their favorite experiences from the road thus far:




My favorite experience so far has been whitewater rafting. I rode the bull, which means that I sat in front of the raft as we cut through the high whirlpools and white waters. Our instructor told the group, “At least one person will fall in today,” and sure enough, I was the only one who fell and I did so twice! I banged up my knee and legs on the rocks and the water punished me for a couple seconds, but it was an exhilarating experience.


My favorite food is a tie between Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans and The Grill From Ipanema in Seattle. Dooky Chase’s Restaurant was the first time I have ever eaten Creole, and it was absolutely amazing! At 92 years young, Chef Leah Chase still prepares the food herself every morning and this love and care put into the food made the experience that much better. The restaurant has a unique vibe because of the individuals who have eaten here. Chef Leah Chase, the same woman who cooked and conversed with Martin Luther King, President Obama, Ray Charles, Thurgood Marshall, and the Freedom Writers also did the same for us.

Dooky Chase



My favorite experience so far is a tie between our interview with Nikki Cooley and the bungee jump. Nikki mentors Native American youth and works on preserving tribal culture and knowledge. We met her at the bottom of a sacred mountain Flagstaff, which infused our conversation with a sacred, spiritual vibe that I will never forget!


As for bungee jumping, I’ve honestly never felt so free. Taking the leap off the bridge and seeing the river rush up to my face was the best feeling in the world.


My favorite food was either Meso Maya in Dallas or Dooky Chase’s restaurant in New Orleans. I’m a sucker for homemade gumbo.




My favorite experience so far would just be going to new places. I never thought that I would be able to travel across the country, so every experience to me is eye-opening and expanding my borders.


My favorite food was at Meso Maya. They had the best avocado chicken salad! It was perfect.

Jasmine explores

This trip has changed me in ways I never thought possible. So far, my favorite experience has been whitewater rafting in Tennessee.


My favorite food was the Southern Mexican food at Meso Maya in Dallas.


Roadtrip Nation has partnered with the College Board to offer these four first-generation college-going students the opportunity to travel the country in our Green RV. We can’t wait to see what transpires next!


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On the Road Faves

The Design Roadtrip team is almost done with their whirlwind adventure! They’ve traveled from coast to coast, collecting advice from some of the nation’s most ground-breaking makers, and are now finishing up their last few interviews in NYC. As the trip winds down, we asked each of the road-trippers to reflect on their most memorable moments from the road. Check out some of their favorite eats, landmarks, and unforgettable experiences from the trip.




My favorite food stop on the trip so far has been trying crawfish boil in New Orleans – the somewhat barbaric act of consuming a heaping plate of shellfish by ripping them apart and sucking out the spicy juices was fun! We had to have a local show us how because we were all doing it wrong at first…


And my favorite (non-interview related) experience has to be swimming at Hamilton Pool right outside of Austin. It is an incredible natural amphitheater/cave and is its own independent ecosystem (with snapping turtles and catfish, to boot!) We were all deeply enchanted and had trouble leaving.





My favorite food was Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago. I’m a big fan of pizza, and Chicago took it to another level! SO GOOD!


Although the entire trip as a whole has been perspective-altering, it has been a lifelong dream of mine to drive the Pacific Coast Highway. Early into the trip we took the RV up through Big Sur in California. Seeing that rugged and wild coastline was probably my favorite experience thus far.





The best meal I had on this trip was barbeque… but it wasn’t in Texas. It was in Detroit, at a place called Slows. We all made a pact to eat everything on our plate.


My favorite experience was glass blowing. The annealer was a 9,000-degree container and that was the coolest of the three.


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Design Roadtrip: Photos from the Road

Wondering what the Design Roadtrip team has been up to? Here are some snapshots from the road!




The team visited Montana and was impressed with the amazing views.


Montana 2

Sunsets are better when viewed from the top of the Green RV!


Roadtrip Nation in Montana 3

Beware: beautiful sunsets may cause excited arm gestures.


Roadtrip Nation visits the Grand Tetons

After driving through the Tetons, they made their way towards Yellowstone National Park.


Roadtrip Nation Visits Yellowstone

Yellowstone was EPIC.


Roadtrip Nation Visits Old Faithful

Oh hey there, Old Faithful!


Roadtrip Nation Visits Red Rock

While driving through Colorado, they took a break at Red Rock Amphitheater to stretch their legs…and found a few people doing the same.



They then made the drive towards Texas (and did some serious snacking along the way). One of the filmers for the trip, Willie, was the mastermind behind this “M&M trail mix.”




Because the team loves collecting life advice, they decided do some “man on the street” style interviews in Austin.



And Ben dove head-first into Barton Springs.



That’s all for now! The road-trippers said that it was SUPER hot down south, but they are in great spirits! Stay tuned for more from their journey.

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Why Is College So Important?



Our First-Gen Road-Trippers have been booking their interviews and preparing for a summer aboard the Green RV! All four have made education a priority in their lives, and are the first in their families to go to college. We asked each of them to share with us why they think college is so important, and here are their inspiring answers!



In my eyes, college is a chance for me to have a life where I can eat a solid meal every night and not wonder where it comes from. College is a chance for me to give my children a better life than I ever dreamed I could have. It gives me a chance to do what I love for the rest of my life. College is a constant struggle and it builds me up every time I feel myself falling down. It is also a constant reminder of the hope that I have for my future and what I dream to be. I look at the lives of other students who don’t have to work, who don’t know what struggle means, and I make a promise to myself that if I work hard now, my children will be the kids that can go the party if they want to, that can take that extra opportunity if they want. It is my hope that by putting in the work now, my kids in the future can honestly enjoy college. Most importantly for me, I know that college will give me a career where I can afford to sincerely take care of my mother and provide her a life of comfort and ease; college for me is a constant reassurance that she will be alright and we won’t have to struggle anymore.



College is a life-changing experience that has a profound ripple effect. It allows an individual to leverage his/her skills, resources, passion, and talents to serve distinct communities around the world and change the lives of hundreds of people for the better. Not only does it provide an opportunity for intellectual and academic growth, but it facilitates reflection, enlightenment, and perspective. It nurtures and challenges a curious mind as well as supports a passionate individual. It allows a first-generation student from a low-income community, who never thought about attending college before, to use his/her education to empower other first-generation youth to pursue their personal and academic goals. It serves as the door to the world by facilitating individuals to travel, study, and work around the world. It helps a single mother of three to provide a better life for her children by graduating with a triple major. It allows a veteran who was seriously injured in combat to create an organization focused on aiding injured veterans when they return home. It encourages individuality, creative expression, and healthy experimentation in all areas of our lives.  Most importantly, it provides a real opportunity to pursue and find our true purpose in life.


College is important because it shows us that we have a choice–that we do not have to conform or settle for the status quo. It reveals that we posses the ability to create a new path for ourselves, families, and communities. A path full of compassion, positivity, and hope; where the ideal “We’re in this together” trumps “You’re on your own.”



It’s true that some, or all of us, experience some type of trouble with the financial aid department. We have anxiety thinking of taking out and repaying student loans, or we may struggle to get that undervalued 2.0 GPA necessary to graduate. But despite the challenges, college is a capstone to life. Just like learning how to use a computer is a prerequisite to using a Facebook account, a college degree is a prerequisite to getting a job. But college is much more important than just getting the degree. At least for me it was. I saw college as an escape route to my future. College brings together our skills and experiences to give us hope–hope that we can achieve some level of success, even if we are lacking skill in some departments. And if you’re looking to be high in the sky, hope along with determination is what you need. College is important because it changes you and the people around you. It makes you the person are. It’s important because it determines and shapes the rest of your life.



I think college is important beyond obvious reasons. We all know that we need to go to college to get an education so we can get a good job and make stable income. But from my first year in college, I met a lot of people who have changed me, even if they don’t realize it. My horizons have broadened and I’ve learned to not be so uptight about some things. I try not to let other people’s lives and opinions affect me like they used to, and that’s honestly the number one thing that has made living a lot more enjoyable. With the hindsight I have now, I wish I could re-live my first year again, just so I could handle it better. I spent a lot of time crying and stressing about grades when I could have just taken a deep breath and made a better grade. Why is college so important? College is important because based on the people you meet and the experiences you go through, it shapes you into the person you’re going to be for the rest of your life. It exposes you to different cultures and ways of life, and I think being open-minded about things is an important part of living. Because if you aren’t learning everyday through experience or someone teaching you about their home or culture or even their favorite author or painter, you aren’t really living. I see a huge difference in people at school and people back home, and the main difference is how open and close-minded they are.


Roadtrip Nation has partnered with the College Board to offer these four first-generation college-going students the opportunity to travel the country in our Green RV. We’re excited for them to hit the road this summer!

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Introducing the 2014 TEACH Road-Trippers!


We’re very excited to introduce you all to Rafael, Grace, and Nadia–our 2014 TEACH Roadtrip team! These three road-trippers will be driving from coast to coast, talking to folks in the educational sphere and discovering how teaching is changing the world. To introduce you to the team, we’ve asked each of the road-trippers to share with us why they think education is important (in 140 characters or less!) So, without further ado… meet the TEACH Road-Trippers:


Rafael is a junior at UCLA, who recently declared a minor in education. His parents are both doctors, and have encouraged him to follow in their footsteps. Rafael is more interested in becoming a teacher, but he’s experiencing external pressure to pick a more financially secure profession. He’s questioning his path, and hopes that this road trip will reaffirm his desire to have a future in education.


“I care about education because I have received such a great one, and it has made me who I am today. I want to make sure other people have the opportunity to go through the same experience I did.”


Grace is graduating at the end of this summer from UT Austin, and has always wanted to be a classroom teacher. She’s a vivacious force of nature who is passionate about a smattering of things, including teaching, learning, and democracy! (She also loves theatre, poetry, horseback riding, and travel.) Grace is feeling anxious about entering the “real world” after graduation and hopes that this road trip will help her make the leap from student to teacher.


“Every person has a responsibility to teach—by being part of a world that kids can look to and learn from and, with our help, make it better”


Nadia hails from Argentina and moved to Boston at the age of 14, later graduating from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She wants to pursue education, but is disillusioned with the bureaucratic nature of the system. She studied communications in school, and turns to art as a creative outlet. For the past year, she’s been backpacking in South America, teaching English, art therapy, and yoga. She’s interested in incorporating art and play into her educational approach, and wants to speak to countercultural educators who can demonstrate that alternative approaches work.


“When education meets creativity & diversity the opportunities are limitless and the progress is incredible. Its time to merge work and play.”

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Design Roadtrip: Packing Essentials


The Design Roadtrip team just arrived at our HQ in sunny Costa Mesa, California! Their road trip is officially underway. Now that they’ve survived the first challenge of a road trip (packing), we wanted to know what they have in their bags! What were the items they just couldn’t live without on the road? We asked, and they answered. Here are the road-tripper’s packing essentials:


Sofaya: sketchbook, duct tape, pocket knife, chips

Ben: camera, guitar, sunscreen, board shorts for swimming

Martha: headlamp, shorts for under dresses, peanut M&Ms


Here’s what the road-trippers have been up to thus far:

Day one, the road-trippers met up with Dean O’Malley at Jetpack America, and rode water jetpacks!

Jetpack2 Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Here’s the advice that Dean shared with our crew:


They’ve certainly had an epic start to their journey!


We can’t wait to share more of the team’s adventures with you. If you live in San Francisco and want to salute the road-trippers, next week we’re co-hosting a kickoff party with Autodesk. Join us on June 23rd from 4-7 at the Exploratorium. More information about the event can be found here.

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