Unquarantining Field Trips

In April 2019, the Masuk music program invited a group of students to Iceland. This would end up being one of the last big trips the school would take for the next three years. 

The massive break in trips was a precautionary step that had to be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, however, our school and our world are returning back to some type of normal. As we shed our masks, slowly but surely, field trips should show their faces again too. 

A huge part of learning comes from experiencing different languages, music and lifestyles than one’s own. This is no secret to the teachers and administrators of Monroe and is a big part of why Masuk has brought students on week-long, overseas field trips before.

History classes would embark on trips to Greece, Spanish classes went to Spain, French classes traveled to France. The students who were able to be a part of these trips learned for the first time what it is like to travel without their parents, navigate through cities where they may not be able to use their first language and have a new amount of freedom. This occurrence is one of a lifetime and is something not many people can say they experienced at such a young age.

The benefits that come from these trips go far beyond giving students a couple of cool Instagram pictures. It gives them educational opportunities while also allowing them to be in real-world settings. Chances are, students are not going to spend their entire lives in Monroe. People will travel, and in a generation of kids who did not have typical social lives growing up, it is imperative that they are exposed to different cultural landscapes. 

It is clear to teachers that because of COVID, students who did not have standard schooling have suffered both in and out of the classroom. Bringing back field trips will allow students to increase their knowledge of certain subjects and improve their social skills.

There has not been a school-sponsored, large, overseas field trip since the Iceland music trip. Last year’s senior class was the last class of students who were able to go on that trip. Although teachers such as Lisa Homann have taken kids on trips not approved by the school board, the lack of official trips has proven to be upsetting to many kids who joined programs because they thought they would be afforded the opportunity to visit interesting places with their friends, while still learning.

Masuk’s trip to Iceland.

“I went to Philadelphia with my class. I think field trips are beneficial to learning more and becoming closer with students in the class,” said junior Bella Holsworth. “But, I think it would be even cooler if I got to go to a city in a different country.”

While there are small trips still available, and students appreciate the effort that is put in by faculty to make those trips possible, many students want to experience what those before them were able to. They want to see different countries, speak different languages and develop a more cosmopolitan view of the world.

The first out of country school sponsored trip in four years is coming up in May. Students enrolled in certain French or art classes have the opportunity to go to Canada.

“I think field trips are a great opportunity for our students especially because our neighbors in Canada speak French,” said Iga Leszczynska, a French teacher at Masuk. “It creates a good immersion experience, but also just getting out of our traditional environment and visiting other places is great.”

Map of the trip to Canada for French and art students

While students taking French will have the opportunity to speak French, most people in Quebec also speak English. And while the art students can go to museums, there are a lot of museums with similar artwork that can be found just a train ride away in New York City. Another issue is the timing of the trip. When Masuk went to other countries in previous years, they planned the trip so it lined up with spring break, but because the trip to Canada is on a random weekend in May, it makes it difficult for students to leave for that time.

“I would have gone on the trip, but I already have things planned for that weekend,” said junior Aoife Riordan. “I was not about to miss out on a Taylor Swift concert that I struggled for hours to get tickets for to go to Canada. I want to go, but the timing is bad.”

But for underclassmen, this issue is easily solved. 

“I am thinking about doing the exact same trip next year, so that people who didn’t get to go this year will have the opportunity again and new students will be able to go,” said Leszczynska.

It is great that students are being given the opportunity to travel, but the trip, due to the fact that it is in a place where citizens speak English and have a similar culture to Americans, will not be as beneficial as ones in the past. This is why other departments within Masuk should consider planning field trips of their own. The more trips across different classes, the easier it is for students to actually be able to get involved with one.

There’s no doubt that planning field trips can be difficult. Especially after COVID, everyone is aware that things can disappear in a moment. No one wants to spend time planning a field trip just to have it canceled last minute, but that makes it all the more vital to have field trips while we can. No student at Masuk has had a normal school experience. Despite field trips in the past being a yearly occurrence, many have not been on a field trip since middle school. The sense of normality that would be brought back from the reinstatement of field trips is imperative to the lives of students.

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