By Ms. King - Faculty Chaperone and Parent
It was my pleasure and privilege to be a chaperone on the Education First trip to ICELAND during project week. Travel away from home, even for those who travel often, takes us out of our comfort zones and challenges us to see the world and ourselves from different perspectives.
Travel is exhausting, exhilarating, and yes—educational. It builds memories both of the sights and sounds and experiences but also of the time spent with the people you travel with. Each small chaperone group had the chance to bond with their teacher/chaperone and, more importantly, with each other as they adventured through each day, navigated the ins and outs of sharing rooms, and adjusted to wake up times and endless hours of daylight.
I had the unique pleasure of getting to know my small band of students as well as experiencing the trip alongside one of my own children. I stepped in only once along the way with my “parent hat” but otherwise observed as she made choices at meals, managed her wake up and lights out calls, and adjusted to rooming with other students.
I wonder what resonates with your students who experienced this trip or any of the other remarkable EF adventures? Here are some things that sing in my head and will live as memories in my heart:
- 100% renewable energy!1 Every time I hear that fact I have to let it sink in again. Iceland is the world leader in harnessing geothermal energy. We experienced this geothermal activity both in nature as we stood beside bubbling pots of mud and witnessed the Geyser shoot boiling water hundreds of feet into the air, as well as at the geothermal plant. Here, the guide explained how the steam and water from the earth is used transforming it into energy—so much energy that it is a marketable resource. Perhaps one of our own BASIS Independent Brooklyn students will someday be part of transforming the geothermal energy here in the USA into clean renewable sources of energy.
- Nearly 100% literacy!2 Yes, Iceland is a small country, but it is also a country spread far and wide with vast areas of open space. It experiences harsh winters and many days and weeks where travel is prohibitive and yet all the children learn to read. The love of literature is so great that 1 in 10 people in Iceland are published authors!
- The water you drink from the tap comes directly from the Earth3. There is no need to filter or chemically alter this water. What would that mean to people in other parts of world if they could trust their water supply to deliver such purity?
- The Icelandic Horse. Brought to Iceland by the Vikings in the 9th and 10th centuries and never interbred with other horses, the Icelandic horse is unique among all breeds. Small and to able to live outdoors all year round, it has five unique gaits or ways of walking! The Icelandic horse is intrinsic to the survival of the people of Iceland and represents a living, breathing example of history and culture.
- The Glaciers! The compacted snow from thousands and thousands of years holds our earth in a delicate balance. As we approached the glacier, we were to walk on our guide pointed out where it ended just a few short years ago—easily demonstrating how rapidly it is shrinking. Shrinking glaciers equal rising sea levels, indicate rising temperatures, and equal our earth changing in front of our eyes. May our children learn to be keepers of this earth and use their wonderful minds and excellent educations to find solutions to these problems.
- Swimming, Hot Tubs, and the Blue Lagoon. Almost all of the children in Iceland can swim. Water of all kinds is an important part of their culture and is treated with respect. We learned about bathing thoroughly before entering public pools and hot tubs and learning the wonderful art of RELAXING!
As you can probably imagine, I could go on and on. Five short days on our trip gave us a lifetime of memories and experiences. I have already thanked my fellow chaperones. What an amazing group of educators; I am so proud to call them my colleagues. And, what a wonderful group of students who I can only hope will treasure this experience as much as I do.