| Our Story

Padawan Travelers was founded in 2020 by Visual Design Educator Ty Swartz. Ty has traveled to over 64 countries as a photojournalist for the Navy before retiring in 2011. In 1990 when Ty was in high school he took his first trip out of the country to Mexico with Youth with a Mission. It was during this trip that he discovered his love for culture and travel. When Ty returned to Greenville, Ohio he decided to Navy as a photographer eventually gaining experience as a journalist and public relations professional. As an educator, Ty is always seeking new ways to get students excited about their world and is dedicating his efforts to helping students turn their travel dreams into reality. Ty realized that there are so many students who never get to experience the life-changing experience of travel, he founded Padawan Travelers.

Padawan Travelers is a nonprofit organization that empowers students to experience transformative travel experiences.

At Padawan Travelers, we believe that through global experiences, students are encouraged to explore and develop their understanding of the world and foster a sense of possibility, hope within. We want students to seek new experiences, engage as global citizens, and learn for themselves that the world is so much bigger than their community.

Ty Swartz, is an American visual design educator, certified professional photographer, and author. After retiring from the U.S. Navy as a Photojournalist and Public Relations officer Ty attended and completed a career switcher program at Regent University. Ty currently teaches visual design to high school students, which has helped him master the development of in-depth training and learning programs. Us his travel experience he encourages students to get out of their comfort zone and explore their community, state, country, and the globe. Ty grew up in Greenville, Ohio a rural farming community in Ohio, and was able to expand his worldview by traveling to Chihuahua, Mexico as a junior in high school in 1990. He worked with and learned from the Tarahumara Indians and was amazed at their insight and curiosity about the outside world.

Ty knows how travel impacted his worldview and opened his understanding of how others experience their world. He was inspired to create Padawan Travelers so students have opportunities to step out of their community and experience history, art, culture, food, and develop life-long friend friendships and life skills. Ty truly believes that we must give our children as many opportunities as possible, so when they go into the real world, they are prepared and are problems solvers.

Mark Alberda, BS Ed., MA Spanish

As a Spanish teacher, I am keenly aware of the value of understanding cultures different from my own, and the best way to experience those cultures is to travel and immerse yourself with the people that live in those cultures daily. Seeing how life is lived from a perspective different from my own has helped shape my worldview and has made me a more empathetic and well-rounded person. I strongly encourage anyone interested in seeing the world to take the leap of faith and go explore for yourself.

I have been fortunate to have had several experiences overseas. I’ve been to the Dominican Republic on a missions trip, Mexico for leisure, and Spain to study. Each trip was unique and, given the different regions of the world in which each country is located, I was exposed to different practices and products of those places, which I love to share with those that are closest to me.

I am very excited to partner with Mr. Swartz on these trips and I hope to not only lend my expertise in the Spanish language while we travel, but to also experience new things, meet new people, and expand my horizons along with students."

Mark took his first EF tour group to Costa Rica during Spring Break 2022. He is excited about his Summer 2023 trip to Peru and has his sights set on taking students to Chile and Argentina.