The Marches Academy Trust goes to Washington (and Philadelphia and New York)
Washington DC is the international powerhouse of the western world. There is a real buzz around the city that, as we landed, was covered with a festive sprinkling of snow. In the midst of the Primaries (that meant Donald and Hillary’s face was plastered all around the news and print media) we eventually arrived at our hotel, just around the corner from Donald Trump’s new hotel venture.
In the twilight hours of the early winter evening, we made our way around the American capital, seeing landmarks such as The White House, the FBI building, and Capitol Hill. As we had arrived on President’s Day (one of the nation’s public holidays) the lack of traffic and footfall added to the snowstorm and freezing rain made for some interesting walking conditions. With some close scrapes, we slid our way back to the hotel and prepared for the walking tour the next day.
Dotty, our native walking guide, collected us at 9 and gave us the chance to see the true landmarks of the city. Through torrential rain we saw the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, the spot where Martin Luther King Jr delivered his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech across the Reflection Pool. We stopped in the Smithsonian Museum and eventually made our way to Arlington National Cemetery, where we saw the eternal flame commemorating John F Kennedy and the changing of the guard that featured some enthusiastic members of the armed American military.
We made our way to Washington’s Friendship Gate, the ornate gateway to Chinatown. We readied ourselves for the long bus journey to Philadelphia, the next day, where we would see the Liberty Bell and Freedom Hall, the birthplace of American democracy. Following this, we made our way to New York which, for many of our group, was the true highlight of the trip.
The hustle and bustle of Times Square is quite unique. You cannot escape the blinding phosphorescence of the multimedia billboards promoting the latest product, hit TV show or celebrity-filled new Broadway show that is about to reach the stage.
A (short) walk later meant that we had arrived at the slightly imposing Empire State Building. We were very lucky as we managed to glide through the queues very quickly and ascend to the top viewing deck. There is something that is extremely captivating and memorable about the New York skyline at night. However, the 360-degree panoramic view of what is undoubtedly the most photographed city in the world, partly made the trip worthwhile on its own.
The next day started with the visit to an Intrepid warship, the USS Enterprise and continued with a Circle-line boat tour around Manhattan Island. Here was a chance to take photos of Lady Liberty and all of the big sites around the city. We also had the chance to visit the Rockerfeller Centre – the ‘Top of the Rock’. As impressive as the cityscape looked at night, the ability to see the contrast during the day added a greater sense of realism to the whole journey.
The sobering reality check came on the penultimate day. A visit to the World Trade Centre and the 9/11 Visitor Centre brought us back to the impact of America’s recent history. Visiting the memorial area, that encompassed the enormous footprint of the initial towers, was extremely moving for all of our students. The true horrors of that historic moment were made even more real with the rare opportunity to meet and talk with one of the NYPD firefighters who was there and helped deal with the aftermath of this terrorist atrocity. We heard first-hand experiences of the human consequences with detailed images and explanations of how the landscape shifted forever. Bearing in mind that many of our students were less than two years old at the time, it was an opportunity for them to truly understand the impact of the World Trade Centre and they are now able to pass this on to our future generations.
Later in the day, following a walk over the famous Brooklyn Bridge, we made our way through Central Park to the Woolman Ice Rink.
On the final day, to the excitement of many of our students, we saw the dinosaurs. Not only were we visiting the famous museum from ‘Night at the Museum’, but had the opportunity to see the Natural History Museum with its skeletons, meteors and woolly mammoths. A final group photo and we were on our way. Lunch in Trump Tower, a photo by the fountain from ‘Friends’ and, for many, a carriage-ride around Central Park. After filling up cameras for the final time, we picked up our suitcases and made our way home. It was undoubtedly a life changing trip for many of our students and a truly successful first international cross-trust expedition for The Marches Academy Trust.
Posted by marchesadmin on 16th March 2016, under Uncategorized
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