International Travel at Dublin
Reports from Recent Trips
Today we started our day at 6 in the morning and started our journey to Isabella Island. To get to the island, we took a 2-hour boat ride across the bright, blue sea. Surprisingly, no one got sick! When we got to shore, we immediately saw sea lions and crabs. To my surprise, we saw a baby sea lion.
When we arrived at our hotel, I was so excited because there were hammocks and a breakfast buffet. We ate our breakfast, slathered on 5 pounds of sunscreen and headed off to walk around the island. On the way, we tried to avoid the sun, by hugging trees and buildings that were shielding us. On our walk, we saw flamingos, iguanas, waves of the ocean and a beautiful old church.
Dusty, footsore, a little weary, a little sunburned, still smiling, the travelers have packed their bags for home. After goodbyes (and some tears) in Chaukori, we bobbed and weaved and squeezed through any number of mountain passes on our way to a “glamping” site a few miles from Nainital. The real glamour of the place was the location: a pine woods at the intersection of two canyons, fenced in to keep leopards and Himalayan black bears at bay.
There we met up with Suraj, a former HIC student in Chaukori, now graduated and studying Geography at the university in Nainital. Mr. Nemitz had given Suraj his first guitar lesson back in 2014, but the riffs he was playing now around our campfire—from Robert Johnson to the Red Hot Chili Peppers—showed he’d made the instrument his own. Who knew the American R&B tradition had found a foothold in these highest of mountains! With Zoe on the ukulele and Mr. Walters on the harmonica, the whole group sang old favorites around the fire and made up new verses to our own “Himalayan Blues”:
Today we rose early to travel to Tortuga Bay, a vast, white-sand beach accessed through a string of cactus lined paths. After a hike through the heat, we cooled off in a still water inlet feeding into the Pacific. Miguel and Felipe led us on a kayaking expedition to catch a glimpse of the marine life near the warm water of the coves. Donning our snorkeling gear, we were rewarded with the colorful shapes of several native fish as well as a giant tortoise.
We started our day with packing up camp and leaving Quito. After an hour or so bus ride, full of chatter and music, we ended up back at the Quito airport and went through customs. Finally, the squad boarded the plane and took a two-ish hour flight to the islands. Once we landed and got our passports stamped, we ran off to catch a bus. As we looked out the window it wasn't anything like Quito; it was very vast and dry, stretching for miles without any habitation in site. The bus took us to a ferry where many admired the varying blues of the ocean as we went to Santa Cruz Island.
The mountaineer’s curse: the higher one goes, the higher one wants to go. The high point of our stay in Munsiari was the tip-top of Mt. Khalia, 12,600 feet—by no means the biggest of the Himalayas, but the best of all perches to see them from. Under clear skies, not a breath of wind, the whole snaggle-toothed horizon was ours to take in, from Nanda Devi in the west to towering Nepali peaks in the east. The craggy faces of those inaccessible giants were suddenly right there to dance with, cheek to cheek…if only we had enough breath left to ask them.
Monday morning we arrived in Quito, Ecuador. The city seemed to be dead, no sounds, or people in sight, but then again it was 1 AM in the morning. When we awoke, we were able to see that our assumption of a ghostly city was just that. Though it was only about 8 AM in the morning, the people of the city were lively, and everything around us was colorful.
Over the past two days, Rodrigo, Erika, Anne and I made our ways down the steep hills and through the narrow, busy streets of Bariloche to visit two of our Patagonian partner schools.
We were warmly welcomed on the first morning by administrators and teachers from all three partner schools, showered with greetings, kisses on cheeks, and feasted with pastries and sandwiches. We shared our ideas and dreams, constraints and concerns, in building a shared program. How many students could visit at a time? How much Spanish should Dublin students have had before coming? Could we design exchanges around themes like environmental studies or history? What role should an accompanying teacher play? What courses are most important at Dublin for Argentinian students? Could we also exchange teachers, and if so, for how long? These questions and more launched us into classroom visits.
Mornings begin early at Himalayan Inter College. Mr. Rautella’s whistle cuts through the stillness at exactly 5:00 AM sharp (5:30 on Sundays so students can, you know, “sleep in”). Soon after you can hear evidence of the hostel students sluggishly beginning their morning routine. A door creaks as the younger students head for the bathroom, through the caged enclosure placed around their outdoor corridor to prevent any leopards from entering while they sleep. There is no snooze button in the Himalaya. A second whistle soon after calls the children out to the courtyard where they do their morning exercise routine, a mixture of jogging and stretching, all in the cover of darkness.
That was the question many faculty members were asking us as we frantically worked to finish up comments, grades, faculty contracts, magazines, and mailings before Rodrigo Villaamil, Sarah Doenmez, Anne Mackey, and I boarded a plane to Argentina. We were going to Bariloche Argentina as part of the EE Ford Spanish program to continue building our partnership between Dublin School and three private schools there - Instituto Primo Capraro, Colegio San Patricio, and Woodville in Bono Vince. Twenty-four hours after leaving campus, we found ourselves in morning rush hour traffic in Buenos Aires and two hours after that we were sitting at Cafe Clara in Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires. Sleepy but excited, our ideas and questions surrounding Dublin’s Spanish program flowed freely, and the possibilities these partnerships might offer became more obvious. We knew why we were there.
The Dublin contingent has headed north: two queasy stomachs notwithstanding, we caught a 6 a.m. train from Delhi to Kathgodam, passing from agricultural villages on the floodplain of the Ganges to the first line of the Himalayan foothills make their northern wall. Noses were pressed to train windows to watch monkeys climbing over the station telephone wires, but other images were tougher to take: makeshift shelters atop Delhi landfills; women collecting cow dung for fuel and fertilizer; dogs, pigs, and cattle struggling to eke out a living: the hardship of life in these rural places was all too clear.
When the pilot comes on the intercom to say, “We have received word that the airport is now closed,” that’s the moment you know, there’s no turning back. After three hours of cooling our jets on a snowy Boston runway, Qatar Airways flight 578 to Doha somehow miraculously took off, and with it, fifteen Dublin School adventurers bound for India. At this point, time began to scramble. Dinner took place around midnight, somewhere over the Atlantic. Our flight path made a beeline over London, Brussels, Cologne. Some of us slept, others read. Ella Rutledge was watching Thor: Ragnarok for the third time. Then Budapest, Bucharest, Istanbul. Breakfast—or was it lunch? Ella Rutledge is on her fourth straight viewing of Thor: Ragnarok: “Totally worth it,” she says.
Frutillar, Chilean Patagonia
Today was a bitter sweet day... after 12 days in Peru where we have been on the beach, in the mountains and a little bit in the jungle, our time here has ended. We have been able to go back in time with the Incas and learn about their history and culture, we have met incredible people, tasted delicious food and listened to the Andenian music.
Our time here helped us not only to improve our Spanish but to helped us immerse ourselves in a new culture full of colors and contrasts.
Today was our first full day in Ollantaytambo. Our morning was spent
working with students of the local school on a service project. It was an
amazing experience being able to give back to the community and create a
bond with the children there.
Today has been another incredible day.
The archeological site was amazing, it is unbelievable that the Inkas were ahead of time in so many ways, specially with architecture. We learned a lot about that in Saqsaywaman. Saqsaywaman is a citadel on the northern outskirts of the city of Cusco, Peru, the historic capital of the Inca Empire.
Today we woke up with a lot of energy and very eager to learn about Peru.
We had an Incredible breakfast at the hotel and after that, we did a food tour at a local market and learn about other types of vegetables and fruits that we didn't even know exist, And try them all.
Following our tasting of new fruits, we visited Chef Luciano we prepared some delicious Ceviche. And we all loved it. In the afternoon, we had lunch in Francesco Restaurant where we had the opportunity to cook our own Ceviche and Causa with what we bought at the local market and with the guidance of chef Jair.
Dublin School will be sponsoring two trips for students this year. As a part of the Spanish language initiative, they will be focussed on Spanish speaking countries and cultures.
The first trip, to be offered during the March break, will be a twelve day trip to Peru. Students will visit Lima and then travel on to the Andes and the countryside of the Incan Empire: visiting Cusco (the Incan Capital), the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Aguas Calientes and the world famous Machu Picchu at dawn. The second trip, to be offered during June, will be a fifteen day trip to Spain. Destinations include Madrid, Granada, Corduba, and Sevilla.
The Incredible Journey
For the past twenty days we have been on a quest. Initially, this trip was about being briefly immersed into a different culture, resuming the relationships established by previous trips and creating a shared experience between a small, but representative, group from the Dublin School community. We certainly accomplished these tasks while also establishing new expectations and views of ourselves and those around us. Not surprising given that we were halfway around the world in a place defined so deeply by religious, cultural and historic roots. Each of us came on this adventure for separate reasons and with different goals, but we all return home with new ideas and an increased appreciation for what makes us human.
We are currently in a swanky hotel in Nanital. We left Munsiari yesterday morning after some hugs and best wishes from our home stay Moms. We stopped for lunch at the HIC in Chaukori to catch up with "old" friends. There were more tears, hugs and pictures and we made our way to Baijnath. There we found a Hindu temple dating from the 10th century. We happened to be there for their evening prayer ritual at sundown and were invited to participate.
Members of a Global Community
We have spent these last couple of days in Munsiari with a mix of classroom and hands-on activities. Monday opened with a discussion with Malika about the human relationship with nature, specifically animals. We looked at the different ways humans use and interact with our fellow members of the animal kingdom. The question was raised regarding any actual or perceived differences between domesticated and wild animals. Are the roles and purposes of animals in the human experience a necessary or merely justified relationship? There were some contemplative thoughts and ideas exchanged, and many of us reflected on our own perspectives and experiences.
Because It's There
As we began stirring on our last morning in Chaukori we received notice that our plans in Munsiari were to change slightly. Weather forecasts were calling for thunderstorms and precipitation on the scheduled days of our trek so we would be heading out a day earlier. This meant we would need to pack up and leave the HIC ahead of our original schedule. No problem, time is a relative concept in India. Our bags were loaded onto two jeep style vehicles. We took many pictures with our new friends, shared hugs and even shed some tears. We took consolation in the idea that we will try to stop for lunch at HIC on our way back through town after our time in Munsiari.
On Wednesday we got ourselves out of bed once again and made the short trek to what has now affectionately been named ‘Sunspot.’ While the mountains in view of our own Sunspot in Dublin may not be as grand, the meaningfulness of both places holds a place in our hearts. We soaked in the sights and sounds for a bit and then as we found contentment began to individually head back to the school.
We woke on our first full day to meet for tea and then headed out on a venture to see the sunrise. It was a bit cloudy, but after a short hike we did find the sun. The high peaks remained shrouded by clouds but we took advantage of the warm and dry morning for a walk around the property bordering the school and a quick jaunt through the village. A handful of HIC students joined us and shared what they knew about the area. We returned to warm water having been prepared for bathing and then sat for breakfast. The food thus far has been excellent with a mix of flat breads, fresh fruit, vegetables from the garden and traditional home cooked Indian fare. No one is going hungry as the food is seemingly in endless supply as our hosts want nothing less than to make sure we are all over full at each meal.
Our first experience of India is that at 2am local time Delhi Airport is a busy place. Not overwhelmingly, but still much more than one might expect for being an ungodly hour that no human should be awake for. Nonetheless, the procedure through immigration, the baggage claim and currency exchange was virtually stress free and we moved off to meet our drivers. We boarded the mini bus as our bags were stuffed into the back and thrown on top. No tie downs? No worries there will be a car following us in case anything falls off.
The Dublin School's Ancient Rome in Modern Europe trip arrived in France yesterday. Today we explored Arles and visited the sites and witnessed the light that inspired Van Gogh. The students loved the Roman Amphitheater and the Museum of Ancient Arles (lots of Roman artifacts, including a wooden Roman barge salvaged from the bottom of the Rhone River). We had an epic grocery shopping experience on the way home. Leah, Hannah, Somali and Matt prepared a delicious pasta dinner.
When we create an international travel experience, our goal is to provide Dublin students with immersive and authentic language and cultural learning experiences in a setting that will inspire, challenge, and enrich them as citizens of the world. We aspire to avoid the tourist model. Instead, we want our students to connect with culturally different communities that will challenge their thinking and allow them to understand the culture that they live in with new eyes. We want students to not only be enriched by the experience but to increase their curiosity on their return. Fundamentally, we want travel to be a window on the realities and possibilities of the world.
We have found that local integration and acceptance happens most naturally when students go somewhere with some larger purpose than simply to visit and sightsee. We will be sponsoring future travel to local communities coupled with a combination of athletics, the arts, science, and education. Our travel will increasingly be aligned with either our groundbreaking EE Ford Foundation sponsored Spanish immersion program or our PRISM science program.
What does that mean? It means our Nordic and Alpine ski teams training and living in Patagonia with the Club Andino Bariloche in Bariloche, Argentina or our dancers collaborating with the Teatro Del Lago in Frutillar, Chile. It means science students monitoring environmental change in Chaukori India with students from the Himalaya Inter College. It means science research trips in places where only Spanish is spoken. It means using sports, the arts and science to break down cultural barriers.
Planned trips 2017/18
- Himalayan India
- Bariloche, Argentina
Planned trips 2018/19
- Spanish immersion science trip
- Bariloche, Argentina