When Chips Norcross led a group of students on a history trip to Washington, D.C., in spring of 2010, his second trip as a Program Leader with WorldStrides, there was no doubt that his students were all having an exceptionally fun, powerful experience. For some of the students, it was their first visit to the nation’s capital. Others had visited the area before, but this trip was a chance to see new sites or revisit some of the sites they’d visited before. The group traveled by bus to the capital city, and many students were dreading that long bus ride. But, Chips said, by the time the group arrived in Washington, D.C., “I think there were many of them that didn’t want it to end!” Each student took away something special from the trip, and according to Chips, the students all had “a grand experience. There was not one student who was the least bit disappointed.” One student was so moved by her experience traveling to Washington, D.C., with WorldStrides, she chronicled her travel adventures and shared it with Chips, her government teacher. Chips shared her story with us, and we are proud to be able to share it with you. Read on to learn more about Beth’s trip to Washington, D.C.
I’m not sure that I can fully and clearly explain what this trip meant to me. I cannot think of many adjectives to describe it, other than exciting, intriguing, and too short. I was really, really happy while on the trip. I don’t know if it was bonding with my class, learning an immeasurable amount of information, being in such a historical place, or just being away from school that made me that way; I just was. For my reflection, I will talk through each of these aspects of my experience, and hopefully figure out what it was that I loved so much about it.
I expected the long eight hours of driving would be unbearable. I thought that after around two hours, everyone would be bored, crabby, and already have exhausted any possible topic for conversation. I never thought that it would go by as fast as it did and that I would be left hoping for a longer ride. It seemed as if all of the drama that had once engulfed our class had evaporated. We had sing-a-longs together. We watched movies together. We played games together. Everything we did strengthened the bond between us. The bus ride wasn’t the only thing that did that. Upon arriving at our hotel, we all came out into the hallway for a “hallway party.” We told stories, made jokes, and ate junk food together. On the walks to the various museums, we walked and talked with people that we normally might not have. At the White House and World War II Memorial, we took pictures with people that we normally might not have. All of these bonding experiences were so important to me, because the friendships in our grade have been so up and down. As the year comes to a close, I don’t want anyone to regret not becoming closer to everyone.
Our tour guide, “Mr. Brian,” was so full of facts and stories that I wondered how on earth he didn’t have a constant migraine. However, as the trip progressed, I realized why he had put so much effort into learning everything (other than the fact that it is his job). I love the feeling of pride that comes with knowing lots about one monument or one picture. On top of that, learning about each site was so interesting! There were so many hidden facts that the everyday person would not know. The amount of thought and planning that was put into building each and every site never failed to amaze me. I honestly don’t know anyone that knows as much about his profession as Mr. Brian does.
On various parts of the trip, I got butterflies in my stomach as I thought about who might have stood right where I was standing. At Mount Vernon, it was being in George Washington’s own house and seeing the tomb where he is buried. Being on the House floor with Rep. Jim McGovern, as he said that John F. Kennedy might have sat in the same seat as one of us, made me gasp. It’s a feeling that is hard to explain. I suppose you could call it shock or excitement, but I don’t think that those words really do the job.
Overall, this year’s trip to Washington, D.C., was a successful one. I don’t think there is one person who regrets going on the trip; everyone got to do something that really suited his or her interests. Surprisingly, I didn’t even want to leave, which is a big deal because I get homesick easily! Thank you so much for this trip. It means a lot to all of us that you put so much work into it.