Jun 6, 2014

Trip of a Lifetime

The five eighth grade students who took the life-changing trip of a lifetime to Hawaii.  (This photo was taken on Sunday, June 1, 2014 at what I believe is the Halona Blow Hole on the southern end of Oahu, Hawaii)

Yesterday I returned from the second impossible trip of this year.  The Saipan trip still hasn't been fully recapped on these pages (though I promise, the rest of the posts on that epic trip are coming. . .and soon), and I now have a series of entries lined up on another trip that seemed a like a fantasy at first--but became a life-changing reality nonetheless:  The CAA 8th grade class trip to Hawaii.

This was truly the trip of a lifetime.  It took me awhile to really get that.  I've been to Hawaii so many times that while it's never lost it's allure, it feels very familiar to me. But as my students and I hustled to raise the funds for the trip, as we answered the standard "So where are you going on the class trip" and witnessed the surprise, awe, and on occasion barely concealed, almost hostile jealousy it began to dawn on me that this was no ordinary 8th grade class trip.  We were planning to take a trip that many people dream of their entire lives, a trip that they may never have the chance to take.  For many Americans the 50th state is almost a fantasy, a place you may visit once in your life (for a honeymoon or an anniversary) and maybe never again.

In a sense, this trip brought me back to what had always been the vision I'd had for class trips back in Saipan; to take kids to a place most of them had never been and might not have the chance to see again.  I wanted the students to have an experience of a lifetime, not just a few days of fun or a few days of museum visits, but an exposure to a new and different world, an experience that would be both fun and deeply educational, one that would help them see the world in a whole new way.  I believe we accomplished that with this journey to Hawaii.  And we accomplished something else I hadn't quite anticipated.  This trip may have been life-changing as well. The students realized that this was not merely a neat place they visited, but a place they could one day live, if they wanted to.  It was so inspiring to see the students realize that the world was a whole lot bigger than they thought, and that their options for a life well-lived were far greater than they had imagined.

I've never been inclined to "standardize" my class trips, so that each year we go to the same place and do the same things.  I realize that for larger schools this is a practical necessity.  But I've been blessed to teach in small schools with lean, nimble classes that could plan a different, unique trip every year. But if there were ever a destination I'd consider standardizing, Hawaii would have to be it.  I want every 8th grade class I teach to have this life-changing, eye-opening, mind-expanding, unforgettable, beautiful trip of a lifetime:

Well,that's it 8th grade trip is finished I had so much fun in Honolulu/Hawaii I can't believe I saw fish swimming around me I was so amazed of what I saw, I'm going 2 miss all my 8th graders that went on the trip and those who didn't, I had do much fun with every single one of them, and I'm happy that I got 2go 2 Honolulu and I'm just so happy, and now as we move on to,high school I will never forget this trip of a life time and I will never forget the fun I had and also I will never forget my friends, god bless you all amen
                           --Facebook status update by one of my students, as he reflects back on his class trip.

In the coming weeks keep an eye out for the a series of blogs that will capture this amazing adventure we shared in Hawaii.

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