Stories from the Road: Program Leader Erik Anderson Takes us to D.C.

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Most Recent Trip:  Washington D.C., October 20-24, 2022

Welcome
back to our second post from our newest series: Stories from the Road
where we spotlight WorldStrides
program leaders who take us on a ride—start to finish—through their journey of
taking students on the trip of a lifetime.

Today’s spotlight program
leader is Mr. Erik Anderson, a history teacher from Edina High School in
Minnesota. Erik has been traveling with his students for the past 21 years. He began
teaching at Edina High School in 2001 and kicked off his first trip with
students in 2002. Traveling with his students was a perfect tie into their
school curriculum as they normally take 9th graders who are involved
in US Government. Due to the COVID delay, this year’s group of students to
Washington D.C. were 11th graders.

Over the years, Erik and his
students have experienced a lot of impactful moments while traveling. They’ve
met veterans participating in honor flights, heard Holocaust survivor’s stories,
met and interacted with congressmen, and bonded with one another outside of the
classroom. Here’s a fun look inside the day-to-day activities and inspirational
insights of their recent trip in October of 2022 written by Erik himself:

Day 1: Thursday

The weather on Thursday in D.C.
confirmed again that Fall is a wonderful time to travel. We met at the MSP
airport around 5:45 a.m. Upon arrival, we immediately went to the Holocaust
Museum. This is probably not ideally where a trip would begin, but we were just
so happy to give kids the opportunity to get back in the building after it had
been closed to large groups for so long due to COVID. The Holocaust Museum, in
my mind, is a place that every person should visit. It’s always very impactful
for our students. Our group of 80 then moved to the Air and Space Museum. Air
and Space is another place that is recently reopened after renovation. Though
it is not complete, it’s still a hit with kids of all ages. After dinner,
Day one wrapped up with the Old Town Alexandria Ghost Tour and then back to the
hotel. We love staying close to D.C. at the Sheraton in Pentagon City.

Day 2: Friday

Wake up came…early. After an 18+
hour day on Thursday, we eventually got rolling and certainly got our student’s
attention with a visit to the White House. From there we visited one of my favorite
sites—the National WWII Memorial. A few years ago, we came up with a good
activity for our trips: have a day where kids can eat lunch on the mall and
visit the various food trucks. They love it! After the food trucks, we
proceeded to the US Capitol. The Capitol is always special and to be back in it
this year after several years away made it even more special. It gave me chills
to help introduce our students to the building. After the Capitol, students had
the choice of what museum to visit: the US History Museum, Natural History
Museum, Museum of the American Indian, and more. The students were very happy
to have some choice in where they could visit, and this has become something
we’ve tried to do more and more on our trips. Then came the end of the day.
Monuments at night can’t be beat. We saw the unforgettable Lincoln and Korean
Memorials before heading back to the hotel after another great day.

Day 3: Saturday

Saturday began bright and early with
a wholesome hotel breakfast. WorldStrides does a great job at the hotel
coordinating everything, including security and breakfast. I feel very
confident that everything is going to be in order when we arrive. After breakfast
we proceeded to the Spy Museum and this museum received a big thumbs up from
our students. After a while, they were voting on which of the chaperones was
most likely to be a spy—this gave us a laugh. The day continued with a
visit to the Museum of the Army. This is a new stop on our itinerary and we
love it. We had a special treat as Lt. Gen Robert Foley talked to our students.
Lt. Gen Foley is a winner of the Congressional Medal of honor, awarded by Pres.
Johnson for heroism in Vietnam. This was truly a great honor to hear from Lt.
Gen. Foley. We then toured Mt. Vernon, an annual stop. Many of our students
commented that this was their favorite stop because it’s a great combination of
history, nature, views, and still very serious topics such as slavery. We had
many discussions about the various themes at Mt. Vernon and the conflict
between the greatness of George Washington and his ownership of enslaved
people. Mt. Vernon is truly a great place to consider the deeper meaning of
American history. Towards the end of the evening, we visited more monuments
including the Jefferson, FDR and MLK. We finished the night off at the Kennedy
Center with some great views of the city.

Day 4: Sunday

Sunday was Arlington. I LOVE doing
Arlington to end the trip. This year we arranged for a wreath laying ceremony
at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I was very proud of our students and our
school in this moment. Another stop Sunday was the Pentagon 9-11 memorial. Our
WorldStrides guide Mike Fowler-Crews does an OUTSTANDING job at this memorial
in telling the story. This is a very emotional stop for students and a lot of
that is owed to Mike’s ability to make it real for kids. After some lunch and
more Smithsonian time we were off to BWI, then home! 

We love the experience that travel
provides—learning and experiencing the world outside of the textbook. We will
certainly continue the trip as the number of positive comments we hear from
students, sometimes years later, tells me that it is an impactful part of their
high school experience.

The post Stories from the Road: Program Leader Erik Anderson Takes us to D.C. appeared first on WorldStrides.

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