Galloping Across the Globe

Numerous students traveled internationally this summer and used what they had learned at BVN on their trip.


Photo by Reina Burt and Maggie Nuss

French language students pose for a group photo in front of the Eiffel Tower during their cultural immersion trip to France.

Many students ponder whether or not what they learn in school will ever apply to them in the future. After all, why would a famous tennis player need to know linear programming, or an artist need to know about cellular respiration?
Yet through the summer trips of various BVN students, it becomes apparent that what we learn in school can give us an enlightened perspective of the world and an enhanced appreciation for different cultures.
Sophomore Sneha Kannan recognized this while vacationing in India and the United Kingdom this summer. She said that her prior knowledge on the historical affairs of the two countries allowed her to find similarities in the two cultures and appreciate the trip more. Kannan speaks Tamil, a native dialect of southern India, as a second language. She stated that understanding the native language and culture made a difference on her trip.
“[The most rewarding part of the trip] was being able to speak about it knowingly and not just out of randomness,” Kannan said.
With her understanding of the language and culture, Kannan was able to navigate her way through central London and the booming streets of Chennai, India.

However, she was not the only Mustang who explored intercontinental travel this summer.
Sophomore Maggie Nuss also took an overseas plane ride on her journey to Austria, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Nuss also said that understanding the history of the countries was helpful on her trip.
“[Knowing the history] allowed me to understand what the different countries in Europe have gone through,” Nuss said.
This summer, the language department took two big trips: one to France and another to Italy. The French trip was organized by Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission teachers and took place during mid-June. Students saw the sights of Paris, navigated the streets of southern France and were surrounded by culture.
“One of the things that is a requirement for my trip is that we speak only French from the airport in KC to the airport in France,” French teacher Jodi Johnson said. “The fact that they are learning French in my class and speaking French there the entire time makes them completely immersed in the culture.”
During the first week of the trip, students traveled as a group, were educated about French history and practiced language skills that they studied in class.
“They are getting the value of the linguistic piece plus the other cultural elements,” Johnson said.
During the second week of their trip, students lived in a French household and received a taste of what it would be like to live in France on their own. This allowed them to live like locals.
“The immersion [did not make it] a tour. It [was] an educational experience,” Johnson sais.
Surrounded by a family that only speaks English as a second language, students were able to truly feel French. With their prior knowledge about the language and culture, students could appreciate this experience.
“We also had preparation meetings about once a month that really prepared them for the different culture pieces and linguistic pieces, like how to enjoy the food, and how to use the metro,” Johnson said.
Students on the Latin trip had a similar experience. They saw numerous monuments as they traveled across Greek islands and through the streets of Rome. Many of the places they visited and things they saw connected to what they had previously learned.
“They have familiarity with all of these stories,” Latin teacher Jonah Baldwin said. “They get to go and see the places that they have been reading and learning about in class for several years.”
Students visited renowned islands, ancient cities and palaces. They traveled to the palace where the legend of the labyrinth and minotaur supposedly originated. Another one of the islands they visited was thought to be nonexistent until a century ago.
“We went to Mycenae, which was thought to actually be a legendary city,” Baldwin said. “Then it was discovered at the end of the nineteenth century; that was the city that the legendary King Agamemnon was from.”
As they had done with the Latin culture, students were also able to display their knowledge of the Latin language.
“In Italy in particular, they had the opportunity to see a lot of Latin ancient inscriptions,” Baldwin said.
In the end, students’ strong foundation of mythological knowledge, Latin writing and Roman culture impacted their trip.
“In Latin they had a lot of exposure to mythology and history related to many of the sights they were seeing,” Baldwin said.
From France to Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom and India, students traveled the globe embracing new cultures through their acquired knowledge.
“[Having that] knowledge has helped me achieve a deeper appreciation of what other countries symbolize,” Kannan said, “It allows me to empathize for a culture, and not be ignorant of the diversity in the world.”