Trinidad & Tobago
Australia is a land of great contrasts. Its modern cities were colonized by the British just over 200 years ago and embody a cosmopolitan, youthful and progressive contemporary way of life. Aboriginal tribes continue to flourish in the countryside where they have lived for over 60,000 years, preserving long historical traditions and beliefs that continue to sustain them spiritually and physically! As a separate continent, Australia boasts unique species of plants and animals, making it a destination for adventure and nature seekers.
The Roman Catholic Church will host World Youth Day in Sydney in July of 2008. This event is expected to draw over a million young people from around the world to celebrate their faith heritage and gain an appreciation for their place not only in a global church but as citizens of the world, leading compassionate and respectful lives of other peoples and lands.
Illume organizes visits and activities in Australia that enable visitors to experience the ancient cultural treasures of aboriginal peoples, to gain an appreciation for their art, for their spirituality, and for the timeless traditions and ways of life they have preserved in the midst of a unique habitat.
Austria is blessed with beautiful geography that makes its rich architectural monuments even more breathtaking. Great abbeys dot the hillsides between Vienna and Salzburg. As the center of Habsburg power, Vienna boasts magnificent palaces, great collections of art, and historical churches. The Hofburg is a veritable city within a city. Stephansdom dominates the historical center of Vienna.
As home to great composers such as Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms, Vienna offers music groups and lovers of music opportunities to both explore the heritage of these great composers as well as enjoy performances in historical settings.
Salzburg is beautifully situated and boasts historical churches and sites associated with Mozart's childhood. Its music festivals are world reknowned.
The location of Austria makes it an important place to study European history - particularly tensions between the Ottoman Empire and European powers. It continues to be an important place where Eastern and Western European traditions, languages and beliefs come together in unique and creative ways.
Illume organizes visits and activities that enable visitors to explore the rich history of this region, to experience the breathtaking art and architecture of its landmark buildings and palaces, and to delight in the musical heritage the world has inherited from the Austrian people.
China is a vast land and one that Westerners are only slowly beginning to explore in recent years thanks to new initiatives to welcome visitors and build the infrastructure to support them. While it is true that cities such as Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai are undergoing a building boom with towering buildings and modern amenities, it is still possible to gain a feel for traditional Chinese customs and ways of life in historical districts.
China offers not only historical sites such as The Forbidden City, the Great Wall, Chengde (the Summer home of the Emperors) and Xi'an, but also great opportunities to explore local religious beliefs and customs (Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism), learn about Chinese approaches to health and medicine, and gain an appreciation for the social structure of local villages that preserve ancient ways of life and agriculture.
Illume organizes visits and activities throughout China that deepen knowledge of Chinese history, traditions and ways of life. We facilitate cross-cultural experiences that help Western visitors gain an appreciation for the rich spiritual, familial and cultural treasures of the Chinese people. International business students will benefit from programs focused on unique business culture in China, visiting Chinese and US-based companies and interviewing managers about human resources, marketing, finance and manufacturing.
Blessed with pristine natural wildlife preserves and great biodiversity, Costa Rica has been a favorite destination for adventure seekers for years. Due to its advanced educational and social security systems, Costa Rica has a favorable business environment that has attracted many North American companies in recent years.
Costa Rica makes an ideal venue for educational groups exploring international business experiences, cross cultural encounters, and examples of enlightened environmental and conservation strategies that have maximized value for the economy and health of a nation.
Costa Rica: Natural Habitats, Environment, History, Culture and International Business
Email or contact us to learn more about how we can customize these programs for your specific interests.
The Czech Republic is fast becoming a favorite destination for those who are eager to explore the unspoiled architectural and urban treasures of this European gem.
Illume brings people to experience the rich history of Prague. Under Charles IV, Prague grew to be larger than Paris or London and boasted great institutions including the first university in this region of Europe. One of the University's rectors was Jan Hus who initiated a Christian reform movement there before Luther's time. Under the Habsburgs, Prague flourished as a Renaissance city. It later suffered during the 30 Year's War. After a revival in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was occupied by the German army during WWII and by the Communists in the second half of the 20th century.
After the "Velvet Revolution" in 1989, the Czech Republic entered a new era of international stature and is fast becoming a center of European art, music and culture.
The Czech Republic and Prague, in particular, offer unique opportunities for groups that would like to explore Jewish heritage and the legacy of the Holocaust. There are extensive Jewish heritage sites in Prague.
Many North Americans of Czech background will delight in exploring their heritage in Prague and throughout the countryside. There are important Roman Catholic heritage sites and important monuments underscoring the work of various religious orders such as the Jesuits. Those who want to learn more about the Reformation - particularly its pre-Lutheran roots, will find important sites associated with the Hussites.
Due to its proximity to other great European capitals, a visit to the Czech Republic can be combined with programs to Poland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.
Heritage of Eastern European Judaism & the Holocaust
The British Isles have been the crossroads of many peoples such as the Celts, Romans, Normans, and Angles! It is a deeply satisfying destination for those who are interested in history and religion – as monuments from these various peoples invite visitors to walk straight into the past in places such as Durham, York, Norwich, Canterbury and Bath.
Religious heritage groups will enjoy visits to places such as the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and Whitby where debates about Celtic and Catholic approaches to Christianity took place. Great historical abbeys still dot the countryside in places such as Fountains Abbey and Rievaulx. Visit the unparalleled Canterbury Cathedral and St. Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury.
Wales offers a unique and quiet retreat with time-honored pilgrim routes to St. David's and magnificent castles in and around the Pembrokeshire Coast.
Explore the rich academic history of Oxford and Cambridge or the literary sites such as Stratford-upon-Avon, Dicken's historical London, or the new Shakespeare's Globe Exhibition in London.
Illume organizes a variety of group travel events to England - including those that explore the history of English spirituality, those that help international business students gain invaluable first-hand experience in UK-based companies, those that center on the cultural treasures of England - particularly its theatrical and literary heritage, and those that explore the long and venerable history of the British Isles including ancient sites, Roman ruins, medieval villages, Reformation sites, and Victorian neighborhoods and country estates.
Since at least 3100 BCE, civilization has flourished along the Nile River and produced extraordinary monuments, expressive of a rich political and religious culture. Great pyramids and temple complexes line the Nile and have fascinated archaeologists for centuries.
Egypt was also an important center of Greek, Roman and Byzantine colonies and includes some important artifacts from these eras primarily in Alexandria and Cairo.
Cairo is one of the most densely populated cities in the world and includes an extraordinary mix of ancient Egyptian, Roman, Coptic and Muslim world heritage sites. It is a fascinating venue for interfaith groups, religious heritage groups (particularly those seeking to know more about early Christianity in this region), and groups looking to combine contemporary cross cultural experiences with substantive historical visits.
Illume organizes visits and activities throughout Egypt, including educational cruises along the Nile and guided visits to museums devoted to ancient Egyptian art. Excursions are organized to Alexandria to view Greek and Roman sites. Local experts in Cairo help visitors gain an appreciation for Islamic beliefs, practices and architecture as well as guiding them through important neighborhoods and historical sites of Coptic Christians.
France offers global trekkers a rich palatte of art, architecture, cuisine and history – from the sophisticated urban treasures of Paris to the invitating southern countryside with vineyards, medieval towns, and the blue sea!
France invites visitors to explore many layers of its heritage –great historical abbeys, soaring Gothic cathedrals, royal chateaus, mystical spiritual shrines, and mighty castles.
For Pilgrims – there are many popular saints who hail from France – Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marrilac, Theres of Lisieux and Bernadette of Lourdes – and great historical destinations that nurture the spirit.
Illume organizes a variety of programs to France that help visitors gain an appreciation for its artistic heritage (particularly in Paris), experience the spiritual power of its Gothic cathedrals, explore the legacy of its visionary saints, and gain an appreciation for the historical events that took place in various regions - whether those associated with the World Wars in the north, those associated with religious wars in the south, the exile of the papacy in Avignon, or the presence of the Romans - particularly in the south, and savor its local cuisine and culture such as in Bordeaux, Provence, or Alsace.
Germany has been at the center of important historical events for centuries and offers globe trekkers important venues for exploring the complexity of modern history. It is still adapting to the reunification of Eastern and Western Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, leads the way in promoting the European Union and the European markets, is at the forefront of contemporary efforts to welcome immigrants from diverse cultures - particularly from Turkey, and continues to grapple with the horror of the Jewish Holocaust.
Germany was at the center of the events surrounding the Reformation - with a rich network of sites associated with Martin Luther's life, studies, work and ministry. These places enable visitors to consider the historical context of the Reformation and its impact on local culture, politics and religious life.
Other regions of Germany remained fiercely Catholic and include important centers of Roman Catholic spiritual traditions most notable being the region of Bavaria.
Berlin, the new capital of the reunified Germany, is a dazzling city experiencing a vibrant rebirth! Before World War II, it was the cultural capital of Germany, boasting some of the most impressive art and archaeological museums in the world. These have now been renovated and updated, making Berlin once again, one of the great centers for art historians and archaeologists. Most notable is the Pergamon museum that includes many of the artifacts excavated at Pergamon in Turkey.
Germans have a unique ability to combine hard work with fun! It is one of the most productive economies in the world yet Germans manage to find time to enjoy and support local festivals. It is a wonderful venue for student groups seeking to learn about unique European business culture and to combine formal events with opportunities to sample Germany's savory cuisine, local breweries and vineyards, and enjoy local music, art and traditions.
Illume organizes a variety of visits and programs throughout Germany including Lutheran and Reformation heritage programs, artistic and cultural programs to places such as Berlin and Munich, exploration of medieval villages along the Romantic Road, religious pilgrimages to places such as Oberammergau, Cologne, and other religious sites, and cultural and culinary programs along the Rhine River or throughout Bavaria.
Ghana, one of the friendliest countries in Western Africa, has a rich multi-ethnic and religiously plural culture. It is a fascinating place to visit. Ghana is a good venue for studying the development of modern African institutions. It retains much of its rich African heritage yet also embraces many features of modern global business.
Ghana is an important and accessible country for studying the legacy of the slave trade, visiting dungeons and forts used by slave traders.
Ghana offers interfaith groups the opportunity to see how local Muslim, Christian and native African religious traditions live in a respectful coexistence.
Ghana has great national wildlife parks, centers of native African culture (such as Kumasi tribes), and unique places where Western medicine collaborates with local indigenous approaches to healing.
Illume organizes a variety of programs to Ghana - particularly those that combine interest in different religious and spiritual traditions, in the history of African slave trade, in native African tribes/traditions, and in international business experiences in Africa.
Perhaps no other land or people have had as much influence on the development of Western art, politics, philosophy, and religion as have the Greeks! A journey to his proud land offers a unique window not only into the past – but into understanding our contemporary Western institutions and practices.
Great historical centers in Athens, Delphi, Olympia and Epidaurus – evoke great moments in the development of Greek civilization. The Greek isles are not only exotic places to relax in the Mediterranean – but offer great archeological parks as well. Certain sites in Greece, namely Philippi, Thessaloniki and Corinth are wonderful places to trace the development of early Christianity through the journeys of St. Paul.
Illume organizes programs to Greece focusing on the heritage of classical Greek art, architecture, philosophy and culture [throughout the country in sites such as Olympia, Epidaurus, Mycenae, Delphi, and Athens], Byzantine and Greek Orthodox monasteris, as well as on the life and times of St. Paul and early Christians in places such as Philippi, Thessaloniki, Borea, Athens and Corinth.
Ireland is a favorite destination for North Americans due, in part, to the large number of Americans who are of Irish extraction. The heritage of Ireland is our own, and an exploration of this land is, in part, an exploration of the perspectives and traditions of our own families.
The landscape of Ireland is enchanting, providing a tangible and deeply moving spiritual experience as visitors traverse green meadows, craggy mountains, soaring seaside cliffs, and dark forests.
Many peoples have found a home here including the Celts, Romans, Vikings, and Angles. Each has left its mark in historic buildings, villages and religious shrines.
Illume organizes a variety of programs to Ireland including those that explore the heritage of Celtic spirituality, those that trace the history of St. Patrick and the Catholic evangelization of Ireland, those that visit important historical sites throughout the countryside, and those that enable contemporary students to gain an appreciation for the cultural and economic rebirth that is occuring in Irelad - particularly in Dublin and other urban centers.
It is called – “The Holy Land” by Jews, Christans and Muslims. It is the destination that has beckoned sojourners for millenia. There is no other place in the world that weaves together such a complex story or that offers so much to those who visit.
While tensions between Palestinians and Jews have flared in recent years, religious and academic groups return to the Holy Land to take advantage of new archeological findings, renewed efforts at political peace, great historical and religious treasures, and hope for better interfaith relations.
Hospitality is an enduring virtue in the Middle East and the Holy Land. Illume, in partnership with our local affiliate, has been welcoming visitors to this rich historical land for decades, ensuring they feel at home, safe, and connected with local people and traditions.
The Holy Land is the ideal place to witness and experience both the challenges to and reasons for nurturing world citizenship. We share a common humanity and intersecting history. Our future depends on forging relationships that are respectful and compassionate. Our affiliate in Israel is a family owned Christian agency. They have been welcoming religious and academic visitors to Israel, Jordan and Egypt for over 38 years. Their staff is comprised of both Israelis and Arabs, working with both Jewish and Arab enterprises (hotels, restaurants, buses and other local services). Their commitment to diversity and social justice is one of the reasons we continue to partner with them in hosting programs to the Holy Land.
Travel to places where important change has occured causes those who visit to experience great transformation. The Holy Land moves visitors to change as they witness and experience great history, different perspectives and beliefs, and the spiritual treasures of this land. Our local partner delivers consistently high-quality customized programming for the unique groups we welcome - whether they be catholic, evangelical, interfaith or academic groups. They match group objectives and profile with seasoned professional tour managers/tour guides who make the rich history of this land come to life for participants.
Italy is the favorite destination of world travlers as it is blessed with breathtaking scenery, enchanting villages, great archeological parks, the greatest concentration of art in the world, magnificent churches and, unquestionably, the most satisfying cuisine!
Due to its unique geographical location, Italy has been the crossroads of many civilizations that have left their mark on the peninsula. Italian history is rich with treasures from Etruscan, Greek, Roman, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Byzantine and other cultural and religious traditions.
The intersection of art, religion, politics and history make Italy a natural destination for interdisciplinary programs as well as pilgrimages that seek to integrate spiritual with educational and cultural activities!
It is the ideal venue for international seminars and conferences where optional excursions and local guided visits complement organizational meetings and workshops.
Illume organizes a variety of programs and events to Italy including art history programs, religious history programs, spiritual pilgrimages, classical and historical studies, culinary events, and international business seminars.
English & American Authors in Italy
Intersection of Art, Religion & Politics in Rome
History of Art & Architecture in Italy
Archaeology, Art & Sea: Rome, Naples and the Amalfi Coast
Byzantine Heritage Sites
Pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi
Parish Leadership Retreat for Pastors, Lay Minsters & Parrish Professionals
In the Footsteps of Paul: Malta, Sicily, Naples and Rome
Anges of Rome & the Early Christian Community
Mexico preserves a rich heritage that extends back to the Olmecs, Mayan, Toltec and Aztec empires. Thanks to recent archaeological work, much of this heritage is now accessible in vast archaeological parks and in the world renowned National Archaeological Museum.
The Spaniards transformed this Central American land into a colonial outpost with colorful 16th century Spanish architecture, cathedrals, and town centers.
Today, Mexico blends its pre-Spanish indigenous culture with European and North American elements. Mexico City is one of the largest in the world and boasts great cultural groups, beautiful architecture and great historical sites. Just outside of Mexico City, colonial towns such as Cuernavaca, Taxco, Puebla, Queretero, San Miguel de Allende, and Morelia invite visitors to step into another era - one rich in art, warm hospitality, and a deep spirituality.
Poland is a land of great historical, religious and cultural significance. It is a favorite destination for students of European history, for Americans of Polish heritage, for interfaith groups studying the legacy of the Holocaust, and for Roman Catholics seeking to trace the footsteps of Pope John Paul II.
Warsaw's Old Town Square, Royal Castle and Cathedral of St. John make up the historic center of the town that pulsates with life in historic neighborhoods, squares and cafes. In addition to cultural sites, Warsaw is an important historical landmark. It was devastated during World War II and was at the center of Nazi agression against the Jews. Nearly half a million Jews were forced to live in a confined area - the ghetto - and more than 300,000 were sent to death camps, particularly Treblinka. On April 19, 1943, the residents of the ghetto began an uprising that lasted for a month until the Nazis razed the whole area to the ground. There are great opportunities in Warsaw for interfaith groups and students of the Holocaust to reflect on the events of World War II.
Krakow was declared a European City of Culture as it preserves some of the most important Polish monuments such as the Main Market Square, The Church of St. Mary, and the Wawel (including the Royal Castle - now a museum - and the Cathedral). Krakow was the town where John Paul II was Archbishop. Visit the Shrine of Mercy where St. Faustina (canonized by Pope JP II) received her revelations. There are important Jesuit landmarks in the city as they led the way in setting up institutions of higher education.
Travel outside of Krakow to Wadowice, birthplace of Pope John Paul II and Czestochowa, site of the monastery of Jasna Gora - where the icon of the Black Madonna has been a pilgrimage destination for centuries. Visit Kalwaria Zebrzydowska – an unusual pilgrimage site where stations of the cross are conducted in buildings erected to replicate the layout of Jerusalem. For over 400 years, pilgrims have flocked to this site. It was instrumental in John Paul II’s developing spirituality
Travel to Auschwitz - just outside of Krakow. This was, of course, one of the most notorious concentration camps established by the Nazis and used for the extermination of Jews and other prisoners (including Maximilian Kolbe). Between 900,000 and 1.5 million people were murdered here.
Other cultural landmarks in the region include the Wieliczka salt mines - a UNESCO site. The mines have been in operation for over 700 years and include magnificent underground champbers and sculptures made of salt.
Many groups combine travel to Poland with visits to nearby Czech Republic and the fabulous city of Prague.
Portugal is uniquely situated on the Western shores of the Iberian peninsula and has a rich history of exploring the world from its many ports. This contact with other worlds and lands has enriched Portugal and made it a place from which to study so many of the important events of the 15th through the 18th centuries - whether of the great explorers like Magellan, de Gama, Dias and others - or of the horrible legacy of slave traders in Africa.
Portugal is a deeply Catholic country and a great venue for exploring the beliefs and practices of this deeply spiritual people. Fatima is an important destinations for pilgrims as is the southern route of the Way of St. James culminating in the great pilgrimage site at Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain.
For decades, Spain was often overlooked by world travelers who favored other European artistic and cultural centers! This modern and forward-looking land has begun to promote its rich heritage and people are taking notice.
The northern region of Spain has regained popularity as people trace the historical pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, visit great religious sanctuaries in Loyola, Javier, and Montserrat, and mesmerizing museums in Bilbao and Barcelona.
The central part of Spain boasts many inviting cities – Avila, Segovia, Salamanca and Madrid – rich in religious, political and artistic treasures – including a whole new complex of museums in and around the Prado in Madrid.
Southern Spain offers a great panoply of diverse civilizations as its geographical location made it the crossroads of Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities. Toledo was once the center of Sephardic Judaism. Cordoba boasts the third largest mosque in the world – the Mezquita – a World Heritage Site! Granada – the last stronghold of the Caliphate – evokes the glory of Islamic Andalusia with its magnificent Alhambra Palace. And last, but not least, Seville – once the center of Spain’s vast efforts to colonize the Americas – boasts the largest Gothic church in the world and a rich Catholic culture.
Mosques, Synagogues and Cathedrals: The Heritage of Three Faiths in Spain
The Heritage of St. Ignatius and the Jesuits
Ignatius of Loyola: A Pilgrimage to Spain and Rome
Great Pilgrimage Sites: Lourdes, Loyola and Santiago de Compostela
Switzerland evokes images of Alpine meadows, soaring snow-covered peaks and picturesque medieval towns. It has enchanted visitors for centuries. Beyond its beauty and outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing, Switzerland offers excellent opportunities for group events.
Geneva is the seat of many international organizations and UN agencies, offering political science students and human service agencies excellent opportunities to explore global diplomatic and human service issues, initiatives and organizations.
Switzerland is host to many multinational corporations. As a multi-lingual and centrally-located country in Europe, it has become one of the primary centers of European business. International business students who want to gain an appreciation for the unique business culture in Europe or explore international business activities will find excellent opportunities here for interviewing managers, comparing and contrasting USA-based and European-based businesses, and for exploring unique marketing, human service and financial issues of business in Europe.
As the crossroads of Europe, Switzerland was an active stage upon which the issues of the Reformation were played out. The country offers great venues for studying the history of Zwingli, Calvin and other Reformers - examining not only religious but civic institutions that emerged. Many areas of Switzerland remained fiercely Catholic and they offer opportunities for studying Catholic reform efforts as well as traditional Catholic customs, practices and beliefs that have been preserved for centuries.
Switzerland's central location makes it easy to combine visits to neighboring European countries such as France, Germany, Austria and Italy.
Situated in a beautiful region of Asia, Thailand has become a favorite destination for historical, cultural, religious and leisure travelers. Thailand has retained an independent culture despite its proximity to India and China. In the 3rd century BCE, Buddhist missionaries brought the new faith to the Thais who have preserved Theravadan Buddhist traditions over the centuries. It is one of the most interesting places to study and experience Theravadan (or monastic-based) Buddhism.
Bangkok, Thailand's capital, is a bustling urban center with incredible historical architecture, fascinating performing arts groups, and some of the most important Wats - Buddhist temple complexes - in the world.
Bangkok is an excellent venue for a variety of group events - including international business students who come to explore unique Asian business culture and the blend of traditional and modern business enterprises, religious visitors who come to explore the beliefs, practices, rituals and art of Theravadan Buddhism, and those who want to experience the unique food, culture and local art traditions both in the capital and in the provinces.
Some Buddhist temples offer seminars on Thai and Buddhist approaches to health and healing massage. Bangkok is uniquely situated to underscore both the differences and complementarity of western and traditional eastern approaches to health care.
Thailand is also a great destination for seeing wildlife, unique geography, breathtaking beaches, colorful reefs and other natural beauty both along its southern coasts and in its interior regions.
Bridging Europe and Asia, Turkey has a long and deep historical legacy – including such great civilizations as the Hittites, the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines and the Ottoman Turks! Vast archeological parks – some of the most impressive in the world – open windows to ancient worlds in Ephesus, Pergamon, Sardis, Aphrodisias and Troy!
Istanbul – magnificently situated on the Bosphorus – boasts a rich multi-ethnic population of Jews, Muslims, and Greek Christians. It is thus a rich venue for interfaith groups. Its fabulous monuments – most notably Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace – have been enchanting visitors for centuries.
Turkey offers modern amenities and warm hospitality in a Mediterranean world. It provides a great jumping off place for Aegean cruises to historical islands such as Patmos, Rhodes and Crete.
Turkey is a favorite destination for Christians who want to explore the history of Christianity from the missionary journeys of Paul and other apostles, to the great Church Councils of the 4th-6th centuries, to the Byzantine-era communities including the exotic region of Cappadocia.