If someone asked you to give up your entire weekend (Friday night included), wake up earlier and get home later than you do on a normal school or work day, and go sit in the basement of a hotel for most of the weekend, you’d say “No way!”–Right?
Maybe I’m crazy. Or maybe I’m just a bright-eyed intern who doesn’t know any better, but… that’s EXACTLY what I did this weekend. And I loved every minute of it.
Next spring, NG Student Expeditions will launch a new program that brings middle and high school students to DC for a week-long look at our nation’s capital. Last weekend nearly 40 teachers from around the country flew in for a preview of this exciting new tour.
I was lucky enough to get involved in the project a few weeks ago when
they pulled in some folks here at the Education department for
collaboration. I quickly became super-stoked as I read through the
itinerary for the week. I ran down the hallway to my supervisor and
shouted “THIS IS AWESOME!” and ran back to the Cave. (We lovingly call
our office “The Intern Cave,” as it has 6 desks crowded into a
windowless room.) Then I did a little dance. Then I waved the
printed-out itinerary wildly at the other interns, again shouting “THIS
IS AWESOME!” I realize I tend to get slightly over-zealous sometimes,
but I was honestly thrilled to have the chance to be a part of this
trip. It was this zealousness that drove me to agree to give up my
weekend for the Teachers’ conference, and fortunately, I had the
opportunity to meet dozens of educators from all over who were just as
enthusiastic about the program as I was!
These folks came from every corner of the country, some who were very
familiar to DC and some who have never been here before. Some were
middle school teachers, some were high school teachers. Some had
social studies backgrounds, others taught science, journalism, or
photography. A few have taught for over 30 years while others were
younger than 30 years old. We were an incredibly diverse group, which
made the collaboration all the more fruitful.
We were not all geographers, and yet the lessons I learned last weekend
couldn’t have been more geographic. One teacher told me stories of
rafting down the Deschutes River in Oregon. Someone else told me her
adventures with the school band in South Carolina. It wasn’t the
nicest weekend and we only briefly saw the monuments through the
rain-slicked windows of the tour bus, but somehow that didn’t dampen
anyone’s spirits. We were all happy and excited to be a part of a new
kind of tour for school groups, one that won’t just dump students off
at the Museum of American History and say “Have fun! Meet back at the
entrance in 3 hours.”
These kids will get to meet a National Geographic photographer, then go
out in the city and take pictures, or meet a Cartography expert while
collecting data to make their own map. They’ll explore the city in ways
other tours don’t–through the eyes of National Geographic. Even if
they are not part of a geography class, the week’s activities will get
the students to think like geographers, engaged in the moment and ready
to learn about their environment–a goal we strive for everyday with the
My Wonderful World campaign!
I kind of wish I could go back to high school, just so I could go on
one of these tours myself! The braces would be awkward for sure, and I
wouldn’t like reliving physics class or the putrid smell from the
cafeteria, but perhaps I could rekindle my love for the Backstreet Boys
with the other students on the trip. Kids still listen to them these
Maggie for My Wonderful World