One of the perks of being a teacher is the school trips. Well, it’s a perk for me anyway; I know plenty of teachers that would struggle to think of something they’d like to do less. For me though, any excuse to travel is fantastic, even if it is just up the motorway, or a quick hop across the Channel.
As it is the 100th year since the start of World War One, my school had planned a remembrance trip to the Belgian town of Ypres. We took just over fifty students for three days to explore the towns, cemeteries and trenches of the region.
For many of my students it was the first time they had left our county, let alone country; one adorably intrepid traveller even had to check with us which currency to use at the Stansted services.
It was such a valuable trip for all of us though, and was a great reminder for me of why travel is such an important part of my life. It enables us to see into others people’s lives, both those living now or a hundred years ago, and learn from them. I am not a historian and knew very little of WW1 apart from the poetry, so it was fascinating to learn about the lives and deaths of the men who fought in the region, and about the Belgian people who returned to rebuild their lives afterwards.
The exposure to a life, so devastatingly different to their own, had a profound effect on many of our students, and I was so proud to see them acting so thoughtfully. Getting a teenager to explore their empathy is no easy task.