World Knowledge and a Worldly Experience

Three Vista Virtual School Students Learn the World Hands-on

Finn, Nico and Milo Colebrook are currently on an extended trip across the world, immersing with unique cultures and experiences. With mom (Mary) and dad (John), the “Colebrook 5” have visited many countries in their over-a-year-long excursion—while still being committed to learning.

“We picked this particular time in our lives because we felt that the kids were at a perfect age to embark on this journey,” said father, John Colebrook. “Being eight, 10, and 12, the kids are somewhat independent without being “too cool” to hang with us—they are so curious and adaptable at these ages.”

That led to some great experiences.

“Traveling enables us to see and experience different cultures,” said Finn. “Some of the best opportunities to learn on our trip have been by interacting with locals, as well as visiting museums and taking tours.”

With great food.

“My favourite things about travelling are trying new foods (I especially love Asian food),” said Nico. “And seeing different animals, and observing the different scenery/landscapes around the world.”

And continuous learning.

“I like being able to learn about different cultures by experiencing them,” said Milo. “It gives me the opportunity to learn many things.”

Based out of Red Deer for elementary and middle school, the family moved to home education with Vista Virtual School (VVS) while they experience practical life skills, new languages and to “see, breathe, touch and taste the world.” They even have a blog that tracks their excursion,

“We wanted to take time to connect as a family, unencumbered by work, school, sleepovers and extracurricular activities,” said Colebrook.

And as avid travellers, the family was looking for an opportunity to help enhance their kids’ to become engaged global citizens, and doing this before the more time-intense years of high school education.

“We wanted to stick with the Alberta curriculum as much as possible, and our hope was if we could keep up with math and English, we would be happy,” said Colebrook.

This meant learning focused more on online courses in math, English and science. While in contrast, social and science studies have included hands-on learning through their travels.

“To all of a sudden become your own kids’ teachers was definitely daunting,” said Colebrook. “Boy, do we ever have an appreciation for teachers!”

A typical day sees the students working on classwork in the morning, or using e-readers while on buses and airplanes to read and complete schoolwork.

“With flexibility in the timelines we found VVS a good fit for us,” says Colebrook. “And the learning and insights the kids gain from this trip helps them accept and embrace the diversity of the world. Something that will serve them well as they grow up.”

Those experiences have taken them through South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and more—including a planned final three months in France so they can continue their French immersion learning.

“To actually experience the places and things they have read about is truly amazing,” said Colebrook. “There is so much learning that happens on a daily basis that can not be measured conventionally. We even try to keep up with current events and the news, and have many conversations about global politics.”

The Colebrook 5 have been blogging and journaling daily activities, and that helps keep up with writing and documenting the adventures they have been on—scribing their learning experience and showing how we are all connected across the world.

“We wanted to experience this big beautiful world with them,” said Colebrook. “There is no doubt that time really does fly by much too fast. This trip was also meant as a ‘pause’ on our regular life. The routines and schedules would always be there. We wanted to experience a different pace and a different way of life.”

The family has seen a lot of the world, but a second trip is not out of the question either.

“One thing we’ve learned is life is unpredictable and full of surprises,” said Colebrook. “…and we’ve always wanted to learn Spanish!”

Photos from submitted via

Posted on: April 23rd, 2019
Learn More About Finn’s Experience

Name: Finn
Grade: 7
School: VVS (previously at Central Middle School)
Future plans: Graduate from high school and then
win a scholarship to go to United World Colleges (UWC).
After UWC, I plan on finishing university and
becoming an anime/manga artist as a hobby.


For the past year, Finn has been travelling across the world and gaining a unique perspective.

“Traveling enables us to see and experience different cultures,” he says. “Some of the best opportunities to learn on our trip have been by interacting with locals, as well as visiting museums and taking tours.”

While balancing hand-on learning, he’s also managed to keep up with his schoolwork.

“I like learning while travelling because it is very different from a traditional school,” he says. “The hours are flexible, we get to work in various places, and we have the chance to learn through experiences.

“We try to do some book-based learning in the mornings, and this frees us up to do other activities in the afternoons. Activities such as sight-seeing, visiting museums, and simply exploring new places offer us many opportunities for hands-on learning.”

Staying at different places and learning (listening to) new languages has been a highlight of the experience, and it has allowed him to discuss many things about what he sees with his family (Colebrook 5) as they visit many different regions, cultures and countries.

“My favourite types of tours are walking tours. On our trip, we have visited and learned about many different ecosystems, such as mountain regions, coastal areas, jungles, and even deserts,” he says. “It has allowed us to discuss and learn about not only the history of these regions, but also its politics and current events.

Though fitting in schoolwork during the down-times has worked, it is a stark contrast from going on tours and integrating with different cultures.

“Motivating ourselves to do homework can sometimes be a challenge,” he says. “If we are drawing or reading (which my brothers and I love to do), and then our parents tell us to do work—well, it can be a struggle.”

But he doesn’t let that get him down, as he has many highlights from the trip.

“My favourite parts of our travels are staying in different places, listening to new languages, and eating new food,” says Finn. “I absolutely loved the food in Malaysia and Georgia, and I thought Portuguese was an interesting language to listen to. Overall, I love travelling.”

Learn More About Nico’s Experience

Name: Nico
Grade: 5
School: VVS (previously Oriole Park Elementary, French Immersion)
Future plans: To get into medical school in university. Before that, I
want to attend a
United World College either in China or Japan—I know
about this school because we had a tour 
of one in Armenia and I
thought it was really interesting. As a side job, I would like to design cool
t-shirts and roast coffee beans with the proceeds going to a charity.

We learn new things every day by just being in different places.”

This statement by Nico rings true, as it highlights his worldly travels so far.

Embarking on a world tour with his family (Colebrook 5), they are embracing the people and history of many different cultures across South America, Africa, Europe and Asia.

“My favourite things about travelling are trying new foods (I especially love Asian food),” he says. “And seeing different animals and observing the different scenery/landscapes around the world. I love doing fun activities such as obstacle courses, snorkelling, scuba diving, paragliding, trekking, and horseback riding. ”

All the hands-on activities keep Nico busy as he learns about the world, though he still tries to balance his schoolwork and logging his experiences.

“I like learning about different foods (and eating it of course!), and the museums, and animals,” he says. “Though, I find writing summaries in my Daily Reading Practice book to be difficult, and can find focus and motivation to also be a struggle. My personal challenges include getting enough regular exercise and problem solving practical matters.”—but he finds a way to stay focused and get it done, while being supported through Vista Virtual School.

Some of his highlights so far include a homestay while they were in Myanmar and staying at two hostels in Ecuador (Secret Garden, Lulu Llama). And the sights include his favourite museums.

“My favourite museum was the Asia Comic Cultural Museum in Peneng, Malaysia,” Nico says of the comic history of nine Asian countries the museum provides.

Learn More About Milo’s Experience

Name: Milo
Grade: 3
School: VVS (previously Oriole Park Elementary, French Immersion)
Future plans: To go to United World Colleges after
seeing the UWC campus in Armenia—it
 would be interesting
to go to school with kids from all over the world. I would like
to be an artist 
and a doctor when I grow up.


Learning hands-on has been a unique experience for Milo.

“I like being able to learn about different cultures by experiencing them,” he says. “It gives me the opportunity to learn many things.”

Visiting countries across the world with his family  (Colebrook 5) has allowed Milo to learn both from the local people and culture, as well as the historic sites and museums they have seen.

“We have been able to learn about different cultures, their food, their art, etc.,” he says. “Some of my favourite museums were the gold museum in Bogota, the Charles Darwin Giant Tortoise research station in the Galapagos Islands, and the Apartheid Museum in Johanessburg.”

All this while still maintaining his studies through Vista Virtual School.

“We usually do some homework in the morning, but sometimes we can be distracted by all the activities that we like to do,” he says.

A highlight for him has also been the culinary differences from Canada. But also just trekking each day.

“I like all the different foods,” says Milo. “I love trekking in different places, especially Nepal. I also enjoyed doing the other activities that Nico mentioned.”