In keeping with the tradition of packed days and seeing as much as we possibly can in a short amount of time, today was pretty crazy!
The scholars have been excellent so far in getting up and being on time for departures, so we were able to head into London early enough to take a bit of a walk to see the British cenotaph and the memorial to the women who served in WWII. While the pouring rain was a bit inconvenient in terms of comfort, it ensured the sidewalk wasn’t as crowded as it usually is (and this was helped further by the fact that there was a road race taking place so the road was closed to traffic!) so Meghan was able to give her second presentation – on women in war – right in front of the memorial, aided by Lola who held the umbrella so Meghan didn’t get totally soaked! As much as possible we try to have these presentations in front of something connected to the topic, so this was ideal for us today.
We then headed to the Churchill War Rooms, where we spent a little over an hour. This group was no different than any other we’ve taken in terms of being shocked at how small the space is, and the significance of that space in terms of history; several of the participants commented on the decisions that were made in that space that shaped the world we live in now. The students who were selected at Encounters With Canada also made the comparison between these rooms and the Diefenbunker in Carp, ON, which was built during the Cold War, so it’s great that they are starting to make connections between things here and things back home: the more real-life connections they can make, the better they’ll be able to piece everything together and gain a fuller understanding of the war and its international connections.
We normally eat lunch on the grounds at the Imperial War Museum, and this year was no exception except that while we normally picnic on the grass, this year we sought shelter from the rain under a giant tree, and we ate standing up while Marianne gave a presentation on the imact of war on children, and Brandon gave his presentation on minorities in war. After those were done we took a couple of group pictures – it’s amazing how much faster they get into position when they are standing out in the rain! – and then they had some time in the Imperial War Museum.
This museum has undergone a major renovation for the centenary, and we were all very eager to see how they had improved it since the renovation has taken a lot of time and a lot of money was spent on it. Maybe we expected too much, but those of us who had been there before – adults and scholars alike – were disappointed in the new layout. Compounding the changes in layout was the fact that the museum just re-opened a few weeks ago, it’s free admission, and it was raining so half of London was there, making it difficult to move around. They have had such a huge turnout to see the new WWI exhibit that they have had to start printing tickets so the numbers in the exhibit don’t exceed the fire code, but they didn’t put this information on the website so when we got there at 1:00 we were told the next time available for the WWI exhibit was 3:45 … and we were leaving the museum at 3:30 to head to Piccadilly Circus for the play. We were told by a very helpful security guard that we could take the group entrance at the side because they still had tickets for 3:00, so we hurried around the building and managed to get those tickets. Half an hour was not nearly enough time to see that exhibit – while we were disappointed in the rest of the museum post-renovation, the WWI exhibit made up for it! – but we counted ourselves lucky that we got in to see it at all. I suggest to anyone planning on heading to the Imperial War Museum in the near future to go early so you can get tickets to get into that exhibit! I haven’t collected journals yet, so it will be interesting to see what the kids who hadn’t seen it before thought of this stop on the itinerary.
Our final destination of the day was Piccadilly Circus, and it was definitely a circus when we got there at 4:00! We gave everyone some free time to look around, then we gathered together to go to the musical, Jersey Boys. I don’t think the kids knew most of the music – I didn’t know a lot of it, either! – but the storyline was decent and the singing was phenomenal! We went for supper after the show, tubed it back to Harrow for the last time (boo!), trudged up the hill to the school for the last time (thank goodness!) and now everyone is showering and packing since the wake-up call will be given at 5:15 tomorrow morning (yes, you read that correctly!) so we can have our bags out and loaded on the bus by 5:45 in order to be at the train station in time to catch our train to Lille.
Today marks the end of the London portion of the trip, which I am finding incredibly hard to believe – it went by so quickly! These early days serve as an orientation for everything we’ll be seeing from here on in, and are crucial for the delivery of the rest of the program. We’ve had some ice breaking and bonding activities, we’ve had both WWI and WWII put into perspective through university lectures, student presentations, round-table discussions and museum visits, and now it’s time to take all of that and apply it to the locations of the wars themselves. Some of the participants were quite emotional in the Holocaust exhibit at the War Museum today, and I just know that they are going to feel some even more powerful emotions when we get to the continent and start following in the footsteps of previous generations. I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with such a great group, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of our journey holds in store for us!
Education Coordinator, The Vimy Foundation займ онлайн без отказа