Cherry Gulch's Shakespeare class returned from England June 13. After eight days of activities in London and Stratford-Upon-Avon (Shakespeare's birthplace), the ten students, four staff, and four parents were exhausted but very satisfied with their experiences abroad. “It was tiring to stay up for 27 hours on end, but the excitement kept me awake,” said Max M., a student attendee.
The students began their journey with a six month course on British history and culture, travel behavior, and the works of history's most famous playwright, William Shakespeare. Most students admit that their understanding of-- and interest in-- Shakespeare was minimal before taking the course. “The class definitely changed the way I looked at Shakespeare. I really didn't know anything about Shakespeare other than 'To be or not to be. That is the question,'” said Matt G. “I always thought it was going to be boring, but I'd never actually seen a single Shakespeare play. Now I love him! Especially Hamlet Guy [Kenneth Branagh],” added Caelan L.
The pilgrimage to London helped students place Shakespeare's works in context; from Henry V at the Globe to Richard III at the Royal Shakespeare Company, touring the site of Shakespeare's birth and seeing his grave, students were able to get up close and personal with the Bard. “Seeing some of the older sites helped me visualize some of the things that Shakespeare would try to describe in his writing,” said Tim O. “It sort of rekindled an interest I've always had in Shakespeare. I watched Othello on the plane ride home and have been reading the plays since we left London,” said Dawn R., parent. “It brought me back to a time when I studied Shakespeare and I think I appreciate it more the second time around.”
In addition, the group toured the Thames by speedboat; rode Europe's tallest Ferris wheel; explored the Tower of London, Warwick Castle, and Warner Brothers' Harry Potter studios; rode countless underground trains and, occasionally, slept. “The London Eye and the speedboat tour [were the best], because I've never been on anything that went that fast before!” said Jackson M.
As Cherry Gulch's first international trip, the success of this experience opens the door to future overseas learning opportunities. In fact, many Cherry Gulch Shakespearians hope to return to London next year as alumni. But next year, we aim to get more sleep!