History and Psychology field trip to East Coast USA
After a 7 hour flight from London to Washington, at midnight UK time we were wandering through Washington DC, a literal trip through history as we went from the Korean War Memorial, to the Lincoln Memorial, to a Vietnam monument, to WW2 and finally to the Martin Luther King Jr Monument. DC had taken on a surreal quality, quiet streets framing iconic sites, disturbed only by the steady stream of Washington joggers. The first full day in Washington brought on a host of Museums, from the National Archives, to the Holocaust Museum. The Museum of African American History and Culture was especially poignant, with each exhibit exceptionally constructed as you ascended up from the colonial years and slavery, to the civil rights movement, through to the election of President Obama and the cultural progress made in sport, music and fashion. In the late afternoon we went to see the Capitol building, which was especially picturesque turned pink by the setting sun. In the evening it was a bus trip seemingly back to the 1980s to go bowling, complete with George Michael and disco lighting.
The next day we departed from Washington on a 4 hour bus drive to New York, where many got to experience the New York Metro for the first time, thanks to our tour guide Jared who instructed us in the use of Metro cards. That afternoon we went on a walking tour around the Lower East Side of Manhattan with a focus on the history of immigration in the area. The history students also got a demonstration of the melting pot in action as we visited an incredibly beautiful Jewish synagogue, now a nondenominational centre playing host to a Chinese New Year celebration. In the evening it was a trip to see a Broadway show ‘Prom’, and then a chilly walk back through Times Square to our new hotel, which was a piece of history in itself.
Monday began with a journey on the ferry for a quick visit to the Statue of Liberty, and then to a museum on Ellis Island, which featured a fascinating recreation of the process by which immigrants tried to enter America. An audio tour guided you through the many steps, including how a psychological evaluation was performed. After we got back to Manhattan, we walked down Wall Street to Ground Zero, a beautiful memorial and fantastic museum detailing the events and long-term impacts of 9/11, striking the perfect balance between informative and commemorative. That evening we went to the very top of the Rockefeller Centre, which on that night was potentially one of the coldest places known to science. However, the view of the New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty was definitely worth it.
Our final day found us on a walking tour of Harlem, in which we saw both the Mosque of Malcom X and the Baptist church of Martin Luther King Jr, not to mention venues where both Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie, to name just two, once performed. Neil, our fantastic tour guide, described to us the reaction on 125th Street after the election of Barack Obama -namely, three straight days of celebration- in contrast to how more recent political events have been received. Then, after repeated checking that everyone was still in possession of their passports it was a coach to JFK and a flight back to London. I’m sure everyone would agree it was a brilliant, intensive experience, and offer huge thanks to our teachers (Becky, Kelly, Robyn and Paul) for such a well organised and fascinating trip.
Liv – Upper Sixth
(History, Psychology, Politics & English student)
Thanks to teachers Kelly and Becky and Upper Sixth student Maria for the photos