Grade 7-8 Copan Field Trip

Of the many highlights that occur during the spring term here at CEE, perhaps the most highly anticipated are the high school educational trips, which offer students the opportunity to travel around the country and see some of their nation’s most interesting and important historic and cultural sights.


This year, I had the opportunity to tag along with Grade 7 and 8 on their three-day trip to Copan Ruinas. After an early-morning start (we loaded up the buses at 4 a.m.) and a 6-hour drive that took us clear across the country, we piled off the bus at our first stop, the ruins of an ancient Mayan city.



For the next three hours we shook off our grogginess and clambered all over a city that has remained surprisingly intact for over one thousand years. Aided by our tour guides, we made sense of the layout, statues, and historical context of the ancient stone structures.


It was definitely experiential learning at its finest.


Once we finished our tour of the ruins, we loaded back onto the bus and drove over to our hotel. (Well, we drove close to it, but due to the nature of the winding, narrow streets in Copan, we had to get off and walk with our bags for the last four blocks. Perhaps in the future some of our girls will rethink their "bring everything I need to survive for a month” packing strategy.)


The remainder of the day was – like every evening during the trip – primarily composed of free time, which usually took the form of a) shopping around town with the girls,



or b) roughhousing in the hotel pool with the boys.



After dinner we took some time out for a devotional period, during which the teachers had an opportunity to talk with the kids about some of the topics of faith that don’t always naturally come up in the classroom. By 11 o’clock, we were all in bed (or, well, at least we were all in our rooms).


The next morning started bright and early with devotional at 6 a.m. (but, this is Honduras, so it was more like 6:45), followed by breakfast. Then we were off again, this time to an avian preserve called Macaw Mountain, where we were able to observe an extraordinary array of native exotic birds, ranging from toucans to the rare green macaw. The bravest students even had the chance – with the help of our tour guides – to hold a few birds and pose for pictures.




Of course, we wouldn’t want the trip to be all work and no play, so after thoroughly exploring Macaw Mountain, we gave the kids the rest of the afternoon to unwind at a local water park.




Tired out by spending so much time in the sun, the students spent a more subdued evening relaxing around the hotel before our departure for home the following morning.


Now, if you asked the students what their favorite part of the trip was, you would receive a wide variety of responses – anything from holding the parrots, to climbing crumbling temples, to just playing in the hotel pool.


However, if you asked me, I would tell you that my favorite part of the trip was the opportunity it afforded for both teachers and students to see one another outside of their usual contexts. Back home, the predictability of our school-day routine can sometimes spill over into our relationships; as schedules and expectations begin to solidify, both teachers and students tend to forget that we still have the capacity to surprise one another.


For me, the trip was full of these kinds of surprises. At every moment students were approaching me to have conversations, or doing things so ridiculous I lost my breath laughing, or sharing parts of their hearts during devotional I had not yet had the chance to see.


And, not to be outdone, I think I surprised the students a little myself. Without the need to stick to bell schedules, content objectives and deadlines, I could relax and just enjoy spending some quality time with no other goal than getting to know them and learn about their lives.


I think one of the Grade 8 students, Joyce, inadvertently captured what I’m trying to say quite perfectly. "You know, Miss,” Joyce reflected thoughtfully one evening, "I didn’t realize it at school, but you can be pretty cool sometimes.”


Well ditto, Joyce. Ditto.


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