In a recent blog post, we talked with Statesmen Academy’s Upper School Dean of Instruction, Lenora Felder, to learn more about the school’s 10-day trip to various destinations throughout Europe, gained background on how the program came to be, and even got an understanding of how the school secures funding for such a monumental trip. This go-around, we’re hearing directly from students on how it feels to prepare for an international trip—including getting their passports and receiving brand new luggage.
We caught up with a couple Statesmen PCS students to hear how excited they are for the trip, ways they’ve been preparing themselves, and even advice they’ve received from parents and guardians.
Let’s learn how eighth grade scholars, Harley and Omar feel about voyaging across the world.
Q: What are you most excited about as you prepare to take a trip across the world?
A - Omar: My mother and my grandma are from Paris, so I want to go back to where they came from and see what they lived like. Also, I’ve been in the United States ever since I can remember. The last time I left was for Africa when I was four, but I don’t really remember that. Going back outside of the country is something I’m very excited about.
A - Harley: Honestly, probably the generic answer, the views. Even just exploring new places you don’t necessarily hear a lot about [them] compared to Paris or France. Opening my eyes to places like Madrid is something I’m really excited about.
Q: What activities or destinations are you most excited about experiencing when you get to Europe?
A - Omar: I’m really more excited about seeing the small things like how people live, walk, and talk. I’m also really interested in emergency services, so I want to see how different countries operate theirs. However, a tourist destination I’d really like to see is Big Ben. I also want to ride the red buses in London, and see the Eiffel Tower. I’d really like to take a Polaroid of the tower and put it in my room!
A - Harley: Currency is something I’d really like to see. My mother and I have been collecting foreign currencies for a while. We call it our “funny money.” Recently, the currency in England with the late Queen Elizabeth’s face has become rarer, so being able to see the differences between our money, England’s, and other places in Europe is very exciting.
Q: Now that the trip is only a few days away, how have you been preparing for your trip? And have your parents provided you with any cool tips or advice?
A - Omar: My mom told me to expect people to stare at me. I’m in a suit and tie, Black, and from America. No matter what happens, keep cool, calm, and collected. She told me the most important thing is to have fun and to not think about home. Overall, she really wants me to enjoy my educational experience.
A - Harley: I’m gonna be honest, I haven’t even necessarily packed my bags yet. However, some advice I received from my mom was to never live my life in fear, be open to new things, and don’t be sheltered. She really emphasized enjoying and living in the moment while I’m in Europe.
Q: We saw on social media recently that you got your passports and picked up your luggage. What did you enjoy most about those experiences, and realizing all of this is real?
A - Omar: I’m gonna be 100% honest, for the four years I’ve been here [a student at Statesman PCS] I didn’t think we were actually going. I need to see things to believe them, so when they said in fourth and fifth grade we were traveling across the world, I thought it would be difficult to fund a trip for so many students. However, when I got my passport application I thought this might be a little real. After actually securing my luggage and passport, and holding everything in my hands, I realized this is reality. I’m going to Europe, I’ll have fun, and I know I’ll like it so I’ll want to go again.
A - Harley: Attaining those things allowed me to feel excitement for a new chapter in my life that I’ve unlocked, and a gift I’ve been given. Even though my picture may not have been the best on my passport, it didn’t even matter. Holding it made me realize I’m able to leave the country. It made me feel mature and different. Getting luggage and my passport was really great.
Q: You leave for your trip on April 7, what has been your favorite part about getting ready for your trip?
A - Omar: My favorite part was sitting down with my mom and her saying that I’m getting the gift to go to Europe. Also, school leaders sitting me down and telling me I have the opportunity to go to a country I’ve never seen at 15 years old was amazing. It made me realize if I never enrolled in Statesmen Academy, I would’ve never had this opportunity. Hearing things like that had to be my favorite part. This experience has really taught me to value the things I have.
A - Harley: I like being able to hold something in all its glory, so going into the post office and being able to turn in my documents, giving them my name, and in return getting my passport was amazing. I’d say that had to be my favorite part.
The students at Statesmen Academy have their sights set on some of the most notable tourist attractions the world has to offer, and even desire to see the small intricacies of each country they visit.
As the scholars explore what Europe has to offer, it’s safe to say that every student will find a place they love, a memory they’ll hold dear, or a story they’ll be able to tell their family for years to come.
*This is part two in a multi-part blog series chronicling Statesmen Academy’s European trip. Stay tuned for part three which captures the aftermath of the trip, and what students experienced as they return from Europe.