Mr. Solis' English Adventure
Hello to All!
For those of you that don't know, I love photography! So, as a disclaimer - you probably won't see me too much in these photos, but I promise you will see some some of my work and other incredible things!
Traveling to The United Kingdom
As many of you know, because of my previous career I've been fortunate enough to travel to many different places in the world, and I can tell you from first hand experience that it will certainly impact your life if you go with an open mind that's willing to learn. I've been to the U.K. many times before and I never grow tired of it; however, I will say that my least favorite part about traveling is the process of traveling. For those of you that have ever had to fly anywhere, I'm sure you can empathize with the feelings of frustration that comes with having to go through security checkpoints in the airport and the hours of waiting that follow afterward. Our flight was originally scheduled to take off at approximately 6:35pm. Alas, our plane was delayed due to the incredible amount of safety checks and paperwork that comes with keeping air traffic organized. I was literally able to watch an entire film before the plane began to pull out of the gate! It was The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, by the way - another great film that depicts some great adventures! Once everything was set, our plane departed DFW and climbed 33,000 feet in the air to carry us on our 8.5 hour trip across the Atlantic Ocean.
The First Weekend!
The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem "In Flanders Fields" written by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. After reading the poem, Moina Michael, a professor at the University of Georgia, wrote the poem, "We Shall Remember," and swore to wear a red poppy on the anniversary. The custom spread to Europe and the countries of the British Empire and Commonwealth within three years. Madame Anne E. Guerin tirelessly promoted the practice in Europe and the British Empire.
Just to make sure that I share with all of you and in light of your recent heritage projects, you should all know that I am also have an English heritage on my biological mother's side. What you may all be more familiar with is that I served for eight years in the Marine Corps which has included several combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout those deployments, I have had the honor and privilege of serving alongside some of the best men and women that I have ever met in my life. Each of us have experience loss and sadness through our endeavors which, admittedly, can be very difficult at times; however, the one thing I can safely say is that honoring and keeping the memory alive of those who've we've lost is something very dear to my own heart. Having served my own country in the armed forces, served alongside some incredible allies, and reaching back towards my own heritage - I wore a red poppy over my heart with pride that day.
Because this is a study abroad program, the other Baylor interns and myself will spend four weeks engaged in the continuation of our internship experiences participating in small and large group teaching under the supervision of educators in various elementary, middle, and secondary schools. Part of this experience includes collecting data on a research questions developed individually. What our program strives to accomplish during our time here is the growth of professional and academic development that includes field-based teaching, comparative education seminars, dialogue with educators, and numerous cultural education encounters and exchanges.
I won't bore you with that too much at the moment, but I will say that I have had a blast during my first week there and I will share more about my research and experiences at the school in my next post for you all!
Have a great week everyone!
My second week here in England has been just had just as much of an impact on me as the first. So, as you read on, You'll learn a little detail about the experiences that I've had in the school I've been placed in and I'll share some more of my adventures from my free time!
The Holy Cross School
Let me start by saying that the schedule (and my own) here is quite different from what all of you are used to. As part of my experience, I'm not assigned to one particular classroom like I am with all of you and Mrs. Roper. I'm actually in various classrooms throughout the day with different teachers, different year groups ranging from Year 7 to the 6th Form Year 13 groups (the equivalent to our 6th grade through 12th grade), and even different subjects like Media & Film Production, Religious Education, Art, Ethics, Health & Social Care, etc. I won't bore you with the details of how all of that works right now, but I'll definitely share more about it in my next post and when I return. So, make sure you write down any questions you have and leave them on my desk for me! As far as the daily schedule - every student here has an assigned "tutor group" based on the year. This period of time typically lasts for about 30 minutes, but it's not an actual class. This time is essentially designated for students as a study hall period where they can use their time to work on whatever assignments they may need to. This is also when the teachers typically give "notifications" (daily announcements). The rest of the day is very similar to our schedule structure with three major differences that I think you will all find interesting.
First, there are only five class periods for the school day after their tutor group period; however, what I will say is that the class periods are much longer that what you tend to have in your classes. Personally, from a teacher's perspective, I love this set up because there is so much that we could do as a class and I could offer you all more time to provide your own input and ask questions. I love hearing what you all have to say and I've really enjoyed having that luxury afforded to me here at The Holy Cross School.
The second major difference in the schedule is that there is a period of 30 minutes that is set aside in the day specifically for a break afforded to both teachers and students. This is absolutely one of my favorite things about the day because it's a chance for me to really interact with other faculty members and students here over a warm cup of tea and a couple of "biscuits" (cookies). Not to mention, it really is good just to kind of take a mental break during the day rather than just running full speed the entire day.
Finally - and this is probably the part where many of you might roll your eyes and say, "What?! That's not fair! I'm moving to England," blah, blah, blah - everyone here gets a full hour for lunch. I can't begin to fully convey just how wonderful and important I think that this time is for the students here (and really should be for students everywhere). Looking from so many different perspectives, I have noticed that having this amount of time for lunch really impacts how students behave and engage in the classroom afterwards. They are attentive, they don't feel rushed, and it affords them the opportunity to meet with their friends, meet with their teachers if necessary, or just a few minutes to unwind for a bit. After lunch, the students only have one more class period and then they go home for the day.
That is typically what a regular day looks like for me at the school. I will note that I've met and befriended some very wonderful and interesting people, teachers and students alike, who I've had some fantastic conversations with. In those conversations, I've been able to see things from different perspectives and I can't say how grateful I am to have the opportunity to take in so much. As I mentioned before, I'll share more with you about the actual experiences I've had in the classrooms in more detail in my next post and when I return. I highly encourage you to ask questions because I would love to share more with you all and I'd like to address things that you may be curious about. Please ask away!
Touring around England
Although I've been to the United Kingdom many times in the past with my old job, I haven't always had the opportunity to enjoy it as a visitor and really get to see some of the amazing things that it has to offer. So, of course, I had to make my way around the city to see some of the sights that I hadn't quite made my way around to yet.
First on my list was Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guards. If you're wondering why the photos are during the day and the evening, it's just part of trying to fit it all into my schedule. For those that aren't familiar, Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain's sovereigns since 1837 and today is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch. The Changing the Guard ceremony lasts about 45 minutes. The privilege of guarding the Sovereign traditionally belongs to the Household Troops, better known as ‘the Guards’, who have carried out this duty since 1660.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Oxford, which is somewhere I never had the chance to visit during all of my trips to England in the past. This little town is home to the famous Oxford University system which is one of the more prestigious schools in the country. If you're familiar with the Baylor campus, then you know that it's essentially within it's own area, so to speak. One of the major ways that Oxford differs from that is that the university is a "city university" in that it does not have a main campus; instead, colleges, departments, accommodation, and other facilities are scattered throughout the city. Nevertheless, I did see some of it's building's incredible architecture. If I haven't shared this fact with you all before - I love architecture! Aside from the university, I also had the chance to visit C.S. Lewis' home! I hope that you are all familiar with some of Lewis' work such as The Chronicles of Narnia. I mean, who doesn't love The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe? Lewis is one of my favorite authors and his writing has had a big impact on me as a reader, writer, and even personally in so many different ways. To see his home was something I truly enjoyed! Not only did I get to see his home, but I also had the chance to have a meal at one of Lewis' favorite establishments to frequent - The Eagle and Child. Not only was this a favorite of Lewis', but it was one in which "The Inklings" (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and others) would meet at and converse with one another. It was quite an experience to sit within the same walls that some of the greatest minds who had such an impact on 20th century British literature sat in. Who know? Maybe some of that genius rubbed off on me!
In my last post, I encouraged all of you to travel when you have the opportunity to do so. I want to tell you that travel can be a great spectacle, delivering the all of the wonders advertised on travel posters, brochures, and commercials; however, the truth about the world, about others, and about ourselves - it does not give up as easily as we may imagine. Although I tend to relentlessly encourage reading, there are lessons that you can’t get out of a book that are waiting for you at the other end of a flight, a bus or train ride, or a 20 mile walk. In my case, with my experiences this past week in Oxford and the insight shared from new friends at The Holy Cross School, I can confidently say that reading and travel create a beautiful symphony.
Take care, everyone!