Deerfield students and faculty members often ask me about my experiences on Deerfield trips. They ask about my adventures abroad and love hearing personal anecdotes from my trips to Tanzania in 2014 and Oxford in 2015. Many often question which trip I enjoyed more. Although most of the time I tell them the trips are not comparable, I have recently begun to ponder the significance behind all Deerfield trips, specifically on my two adventures.
As I sat down on my flight from London to Boston, I began to remember my trip to Tanzania. Motivated by the recent blog posts from this year’s Tanzania group, my own experience at JBFC (The Janada L. Batchelor Foundation for Children) washed over me. I used to think mostly about my emotional experience, like the moments spent with the orphaned girls and time spent journaling and reflecting with the group. While I appreciated the organization and the time spent teaching and volunteering, our amazing faculty leaders made the trip complete for me. The dynamic duo of Mrs. Nichols and Mrs. Cabral helped guide and comfort us through our journey. They emphasized the importance of the trip and related it to our everyday lives at Deerfield. They taught us the importance of sustainability and the key to maintaining healthy lifestyles both abroad and at DA. The many adventures and interactions throughout our trip left most students in a whirlwind of emotions. Fortunately for us, the chaperones’ motherly hugs and the friendly relationships that we created with them helped us through these hard times and encouraged us to look at the greater picture. These relationships are unlike any others at Deerfield and have bonded us in a way that is unimaginable and irreplaceable.
This same support from Deerfield faculty members became even more apparent to me on the Oxford trip this past spring break. Although I knew both English teachers Katherine Burd and Julie Schloat before our departure, I had not fully realized their intelligence prior to the trip. From educational tours of the National Gallery to a movie night full of delicious English snacks with Mrs. Schloat, I realized how much fun we could have outside the typical Deerfield setting. These trips allow you to relate and communicate on a deeper, more comfortable level. From Sunday Evensong ceremonies in Christ Church to shopping in the British open markets with Ms. Burd, I learned more about her college experiences and quickly felt comfortable enough to express my concerns. Although this trip was less emotional and more educational, the meaning and lessons I learned were nonetheless important. The focus of the trip and the many months that led up to our departure provided a unique experience that was both challenging and informative. The literature we read and discussed in our Deerfield classroom were debated and examined even more in the lectures we attended at Oxford. Historical museums, artwork and ancient landmarks mentioned in many Deerfield courses were explored and seen throughout the trip. My interactions and conversations with both Mrs. Burd and Mrs. Schloat strengthened our friendships and helped me learn in ways that can’t be offered by a textbook.
Our group’s explorations of English archives broadened our sense of knowledge and helped us learn in an unconventional way. As we began our final descent to Logan, I began to fully understand the value and brilliance of all Deerfield teachers.
Arms full of heavy suitcases and souvenirs, my classmates and I filed onto the Green Machine headed for Deerfield. While scolding myself for over-packing, I had a brief flashback to the beginning of the year. The first Sunday after summer vacation, the entire school assembled in the Hess Center’s large auditorium for Convocation. As usual, the faculty members introduced themselves to the Deerfield community. We learned of their impressive education, interests, and endeavors. We did not, however, get a real feel for who each new member was. I feel as if many students at Deerfield, including me, do not know all the Deerfield faculty and their amazing capabilities. Deerfield trips help students connect and learn more about our teachers. The close-knit relationships created on the trips not only help students grow educationally but as human beings. A Deerfield education, in my opinion, is not just about instructing a student from a book or meeting College Board expectations, but by educating the full student through a wide range of cultural and educational experiences and adventures. The trip leaders’ expertise, advice and loyal friendships are extraordinary and refreshing. Both Oxford and Tanzania were exceptional experiences that not only taught me more about culture and history but also valuable life lessons.
Deerfield trips provide a unique experience. Not only do they allow students to think outside the box and apply knowledge to real-world situations, but they are also opportunities to learn more about yourself, your classmates and Deerfield faculty. The relationships developed with all these faculty leaders have only continued to grow since my return to campus. As we continue to bond over memories both hilarious and painful, I have come to realize the true value of these trips. Each one is truly special in its own way as cheesy as it sounds. All trips, however, do bond the students with the trip leaders in a way that cannot be done in the Deerfield setting.