Four countries + nine days + eighteen students + three chaperones = one amazing journey through Europe!
During March Break 2015 a group of students traveled to Europe for an unforgettable adventure.
From the Code of Hammurabi in the Louvre, to the lingering effects of nationalism in Western Europe, from remembrance to reconciliation, from unspeakable atrocities to masterpieces that celebrate creativity, this trip spanned the historical, cultural, social and political forces that have shaped European culture over millennia.
In Berlin, we learned a lot about the dangers of totalitarianism; we saw the worst that man could do to his fellow man, and we saw how families, communities and nations were torn apart by fear, suspicion, intolerance, and hate. But, we also saw the power of memory, the beauty of restoration, the impact of forgiveness, and the desire for peace
We took a train from Berlin to Apeldoorn, and visited the National Liberation Museum and Grosbeek Canadian War Cemetery. Reading the inscriptions, we were reminded that war is painful, and that freedom is hard won. In Amsterdam, Anne Frank gave a face and a human story to the scale of suffering we saw at the concentration camp near Berlin. We saw, again, both the agony of war, and the remarkable desire of people to offer help and hope to victims of oppression.
Of course, we also had a chance to experience the beauty and history (and the flavours!) of this incredible city. On the way to Ypres, we stopped at Bruges – a beautiful medieval town in Belgium – where we picked up Belgian chocolate, ate waffles, and toured this incredible UNESCO World Heritage site.
Ypres, as we know from grade 10 history, was the site of an important World War I battle. Since 1928, the people of Ypres have been honouring those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom with a daily last post ceremony. This year, HD was selected as one of the groups to present a wreath at the memorial. Our note said, “Until the Dawn Breaks” Hamilton District Christian High School, Canada.
At Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach, we reflected upon the impact of two world wars on the formation and character of our nation, we saw what is might have been like in the trenches, and on the beaches, and we were moved by sacrifice and remembrance.
We ended, exhausted but inspired, in Paris. There, we experienced a very different kind of history. We saw the impact of Louis 14th and Napoleon, and we witnessed the art and architecture (and the food) of this great city. After touring Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower, we finished the day with an evening cruise along the Seine.
We were sad to say good-bye to Europe, but we were excited to head home and share all our stories about this amazing trip!
By: Emily Zwart