Trip of a life­time

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - photo sub­mit­ted

Grade 10 stu­dents from St. An­thony's School spent their Easter hol­i­day break tour­ing Europe and had the fore­sight to make sure they brought their lo­cal news along. (l-r) Jor­dan Maz­ereeuw, Car­manah Ol- brich, Me­gan Boland, Jhett Dou­glass and Ad­di­son in front of rem­nants of the Ber­lin Wall with a copy of

The Dumheller Mail.

Five high school stu­dents from St. An­thony’s ex­pe­ri­enced the cul­ture of Europe over the Easter hol­i­day.

This was the fifth trip that so­cial stud­ies teacher Kurt Phillips has or­ga­nized since 2008. From March 24 to April 2, stu­dents toured Ber­lin and Dres­den in Ger­many, Prague in the Czech Repub­lic, Krakow in Poland and Bu­dapest in Hun­gary. Phillips sees value in in­ter­na­tional travel for stu­dents.

“I’ve al­ways be­lieved that travel af­fords peo­ple the abil­ity to un­der­stand the world from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive and helps to fos­ter an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for di­ver­sity. It also al­lows peo­ple to learn that what they see in the me­dia isn’t al­ways the full story,” said Phillips.

He said many stu­dents cited their visit to Dres­den as a high­light, as well as a cruise on the Danube while they were in Bu­dapest.

“They all told me that the most im­por­tant visit was our time in Auschwitz as it al­lowed the stu­dents to bet­ter un­der­stand the tragedy of the Holo­caust and the ne­ces­sity of re­mem­ber­ing it in or­der to pre­vent such hor­rors from oc­cur­ring again,” said Phillips. “Hav­ing at­tended Eva Ols­son’s pre­sen­ta­tion late last year made this ex­pe­ri­ence even more rel­e­vant. Hav­ing been to all of these places my­self be­fore, the high­light for me was watch­ing my stu­dents’ ex­pe­ri­ence these beau­ti­ful cities for the first time.”

The school had com­mit­ted to the trip be­fore the hor­rific Paris ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Novem­ber 2015, and for a time, there were con­cerns as to whether the trip would be can­celled. The trips are guided by EF Ed­u­ca­tional Tours and Phillips said there were no se­cu­rity con­cerns.

“I un­der­stand that, in the wake of both Paris and more re­cently Brus­sels, peo­ple are con­cerned about the prospect of in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism and have, as a re­sult, per­haps formed an im­pres­sion that Europe isn’t safe,” he said. “The re­al­ity is that not only is Europe safe, but the world is prob­a­bly safer than it has ever been in his­tory, though given the ten­dency of the 24 hour news cy­cle it cer­tainly doesn’t ap­pear as such when we’re sub­jected to a bar- rage of tragedy. This isn’t to say that one shouldn’t take pre­cau­tions when one trav­els, but that those pre­cau­tions shouldn’t pre­vent one from ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the world.”

Dur­ing the trip, they saw no sign of the refugee crisis in these coun­tries

“There wasn’t any­thing ev­i­dent dur­ing this trip. In part this might be be­cause EF Ed­u­ca­tional Tours is very con­scious about mak­ing sure stu­dents are secure and safe. When I was in Bu­dapest this sum­mer on a per­sonal va­ca­tion I did see the refugees at the main train sta­tion, how­ever I never once felt threat­ened by their pres­ence. Rather my heart went out to these peo­ple – men, women, and a lot of chil­dren – who had fled a war­zone and ev­ery­thing they had ever known up to that point and were still des­per­ately fright­ened.

“In that sense I sort of wish my stu­dents had been able to have had this same ex­pe­ri­ence as it would put a hu­man face on an in­ter­na­tional crisis that is over­whelmed by the sheer num­bers of peo­ple on the move that it’s hard to rec­og­nize each num­ber is an in­di­vid­ual.”

(l-r) Ad­di­son Sowerby, teacher Kurt Phillips, Jor­dan Maz­ereeuw, Car­manah Ol­brich, Me­gan Boland, and Jhett Dou­glass were in Europe over the Easter holi- day, trav­el­ling in Ger­many, Poland, the Czech Repub­lic and Hun­gary.

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