Thursday, January 21, 2010

Reflections on the end of our trip

My first thought as I reflect on our trip now that we have been back for a few days is how much I will miss Sarah Gonzalez. She is one of the founding student coordinators of the trip. She is shown sporting her incredible smile here in this picture taken on her 22nd birthday- January 17th- while we were in Memphis. It has been a true pleasure to watch Sarah further develop her leadership and communication skills as a result of this experience. One of the best things about this trip is that it is lead by and for students to maximize the learning for all. Thanks for all you have given to make this trip a huge success, Sarah!

My next thoughts are of the remarkable depth of caring exhibited by our students throughout the trip. I was moved by the student response to the people we met and the exhibits we experienced. The National Civil Rights Museum is such an emotional experience and our student responded with true emotion. They were not simply witnesses to history. Rather, the fully engaged at every turn and then looked for concrete ways to connect their learning to their future. When I worked with the students and my dear friend January Boten to develop this trip and class, we dreamed of students being able achieve significant learning outcomes as a result of the trip and have a little fun along the way. But, I never imagined that the experience would inspire so many students to conceptualize how to take what they learned from this important history and make change in our world today. I expect great things from this group of students and I am so pleased to have been able to learn with them.

My final thought is about the incredible personal stories and true motivation of the student leaders who participated on this trip. Each student had their own reason for coming on the trip. They each had their own career goals and personal passion. But, collectively they are an impressive group. They talked of pre-college mentorship, access to college, ending the trend in resegregation of our schools, women's issues, sustainability, reproductive rights, immigration, poverty, heterosexism and hate crime with intense passion. They also shared big dreams of how they might be able to. make progress by employing the strategies used by the history makers we studied. Perhaps more importantly, they talked about small, everyday tactics they could utilize to make social change.
Three amazing young leaders are shown here in the President's chair in the cabinet room of the Clinton Presidential Library. While they may never be president (although anyone of them would be amazing!), I believe they are each poised to accomplish much in their lives. I am eager to see how all of the students on this trip will make the world a better place!
This was by far our best trip so far. We are about to open enrollment for the class and the trip next week. I hope that we can continue to make improvements to the experience and develop another wonderful roster of young leaders to participate.

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