|4/9/2013 1:52:00 PM|
Outlaws return from international classroom
|Sisters students had a whirlwind tour of Europe over spring break. Here they are at the Louvre. photo provided|
A group of 17 German students, teachers, and parents returned just before the end of Spring Break from their brief but adventure-filled EF (Education First) trip to London, Paris, and the Alps.
Organized by German teacher Isolde Hedemark, supervised by Sisters Middle School principal Mark Stewart and financially supported by a philanthropic Sisters community group led by Marlin Ard and parents, all tour participants thoroughly enjoyed EF's approach to international education in breaking down barriers of language, culture and geography.
In spite of the atrocious weather throughout Europe, students and adults enjoyed learning on the big stage and trying their language skills on location. Many were impressed by the sights of London at night.
Gail Lowry commented "...a walking tour of London at dusk, I thought that was spectacular, it was so beautiful!"
A fast-paced itinerary in England from Greenwich to the Tower of London, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and No. 10 Downing Street, was enhanced by Stewart, a theatrical, witty, wry, and extremely informative London guide. Many of his stories poked fun of British people, politics, the royal family and especially the work ethic of public employees; much to the delight of all travelers.
Several hours of free time tested student groups' abilities to maneuver the extensive, frantic underground system, the left-lane driving pattern, the immensity of the British Museum, shops and currency and, after all of that, to arrive at a set meeting point on time. Students passed with flying colors.
After a short two-and-a-half-hour Eurostar train ride, the Outlaws arrived at the Gare du Nord in Paris on day three. A quick check into the hotel at Guyancourt close to Versailles led to the unsurpassed experience of exploring the Louvre. Many students made their way to the Mona Lisa first and then spend the rest of the time exploring everything from the Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory to French and Italian masters and Egyptian and Greek sculptures.
Dinner at Les Balcons, a visit to the sparkling Eiffel Tower and a boat ride on the Seine around the "le de la Cité concluded the first night in Paris. Asked about his favorite part of the trip, Ben Johnson said, "I liked the boat ride around Paris at night."
By days four and five, Sisters adult and student travelers had connected well with fellow tour members from Florida and Louisiana, sharing not only high school experiences but many international firsts.
Sacré Coeur and Montmartre rounded out the Parisian sojourn for them.
A long bus ride through Burgundy and Northern Switzerland ended in Erstfeld, at the northern end of the Gotthard tunnel, in the middle of the Swiss Alps. Even snow flurries, wind and rain could not keep back any of the travelers, and many enjoyed a relaxed sightseeing and shopping experience away from the hectic life of metropolitan London and Paris. In Lucerne, a leisurely walk to the Lion's memorial, the Kapellbrücke, the Jesuit church, a number of old guild houses and an Easter market along the Reuss river gave many students ideas on how to spend their free time. Shopping for chocolates and Swiss knives was definitely a favorite.
Danika Wagner noted "My favorite part was experiencing Switzerland; I have many fond memories from there."
Following a short ride to Vaduz, the capital of Liechenstein, and skirting Bregenz, the capital of the westernmost Austrian province of Vorarlberg, the travelers arrived in wintery white of Hohenschwangau to visit King Ludwig's castle, Neuschwanstein. The slushy trek up to the castle left many Outlaws wet and weary but yet amazed by the splendor of the partially completed structure.
After a pleasant, short ride through the glacier-formed hills north of the Alps, the Outlaws arrived in Munich, the vibrant and multicultural capital of Bavaria. A lengthy visit to the Deutsche Museum and a brisk walk from the Viktualienmarkt - the world famous Munich market - to the Isar Tor, one of several old Munich gates, whetted everyone's appetite for a bratwurst dinner at the Hacker-Pschorr Brewery.
The last day of this European excursion was again action-packed with a somber visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp museum and a wonderfully-guided tour past the Olympic Stadium, the State Opera, the State Theater, the "Alte Pinakothek" with its abundance of old masters, a short stop at BMW World, a car enthusiast's dream, and a visit to the Glockenspiel at the City Hall.
With a 6 a.m. wake-up call, the global classroom came to an end and the trip home via Atlanta was for many a bittersweet affair. In spite of the wintery weather, Europe had a lot to offer; culturally, politically and linguistically. Many Outlaws realized the importance of accepting differences, taking part in the political process, and that learning and using a foreign language is a must in the 21st century.
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