After a Junior High experience of restrictions and social distancing, the European Study Tour was a powerful antidote to those challenges. A record of fifty two students and 7 chaperones made up the adventurous crew to explore lands afar and try out some language skills beyond the classroom.
The trip offered students time away from familiar people and places, counting on their resourcefulness and resilience to ‘make it’ through 3 weeks away all the while tending to their own sleeping, eating, laundry and ‘life’ choices in a tight community.
The trip had elements of learning, reflecting, exploring, persevering, delighting and enjoying many things. When asked what students’ favourite was “so far” along the trip, one student exclaimed: “Every day is my favourite. There is so much new to see, do and experience.“
Building on our Jr. High alternative education expectations, students were faced with making menus and shopping lists for their 3 days and nights at Soleil Plage, a resort where they stayed and cooked for themselves in tiny house-like cabins. Paralleling the outdoor ed challenges of Marsh and Mountain and outdoor education classes we also had a few hiking days in Germany as well as a paddling day in France.
Many days were spent marvelling at human designs, architecture and art including 9000 year old statues in the Louvre, the Egyptian antiquities from 4000 BCE, Roman ruins from the time of Jesus in Arles, paintings from Monet, Michelangelo, Van Gogh from over 100 years ago as well as the modern art in the Pompidou centre of Paris and the murals & graffiti the streets of Berlin. Social Studies and art class came to life!
As for history and imagining a peaceful world, that too was learned and explored in new ways as students walked through physical memorials. In France we strolled through the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre site pondering the plight of people who live under occupation and the potential of extreme violence at any time. In Germany we visited the Gedenkstätte and Museum of Sachsenhausen, one of the first and largest concentration camps built in 1933. Students were left to ponder how it is that so much cruelty and injustice can be so organized and long standing.
And finally the tour was rounded out with time to be outdoors, marvelling at God’s good creation in the Dordogne River Gorge, the caves of Padirac, Mediterranean Sea, the hills of Bastei, the Rhine River wine valley, and on the banks of the Seine and Spree.
We are very grateful for community chaperones who rearrange their life schedules to travel with 52 youth during their limited holiday time. Thank you! We are grateful for the freedom to travel once again and the support of the school and all the families to entrust their young adults to our care.
As the trip came to an end, it was amazing to have witnessed students taking positive risks to try new foods, new experiences, new phrases in their 2nd languages and exploring new friendships across the grades. European Study Tour 2023 was an amazing community building time where many life lessons were learned and many lifelong memories were created.
“Life was meant for good friends and great adventures!”
– Krista Neustaedter Barg