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Teachers explore interests abroad over the summer

Megha Nelivigi, Staff Writer

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As Director of Student Activities Caroline Bartels and a group of students placed their last books on the library’s newly filled shelves, they embraced in a final group hug.

Bartels helped build that library at a primary school in Botswana during part of her summer break through a travel grant from the school.

Using some of the money earned at the Spring Book Fair, Bartels boxed and shipped almost 700 unsold books from the fair to Botswana, as well as 20 board games and old library supplies from the school, including cabinets and stickers.

Bartels, two volunteer students she had met over spring break from a local private school, and a group of other students identified and organized each book for four days.

On Bartels’ final day, the group filled the shelves that had previously been bare, she said.

“One of the most memorable moments from the trip was at the very end, when the head of the primary school came in and was just taken aback because all the shelves were so full. She got teary eyed because it was such a gift,” Bartels said.

Many other members of the school’s faculty ventured far from campus this summer. English teacher Dr. Adam Casdin, for instance, spent part of his summer traveling in Europe.

Casdin’s adventure started by leading a group of the school’s teachers to Stratford Upon Avon near London, where they worked for five full days with the Royal Shakespeare Company and learned techniques for bringing Shakespeare into the classroom.

Afterwards, Casdin and his wife traveled around France by car, starting in Paris, stopping in Lyon, and finally ending in Provence. Casdin’s trip was filled with spur-of-the-moment stops and adventures, which ended up being some of the most memorable moments, he said.

When an AirBnB reservation fell through last minute, Casdin and his wife drove around and happened upon a medieval stone farmhouse. There, they met a couple who cooked them a delicious meal, which they enjoyed along with a spectacular view of the Luberon Hills and the town of Provence.

Math teacher Philly Williams’ excursion, on the other hand, was a carefully planned weeklong bike ride with a friend, starting in Richmond, VA and ending in Asheville, NC. Williams described his 600 mile trip as “perhaps insane… but we had a really, really good time,” he said

“Some of the lowest moments on our trip turned out to be some of the best of the best. There was a point when it was pouring, my friend had hit a wall — things were just not going our way. Then all of a sudden, we rounded a corner and the rain stopped, and we came across this beautiful valley with a breathtaking view, and we could see the storm going away. Suddenly, everything was okay again,” Williams said.

After the bike trip, Williams traveled to Clemson, SC with family members, where they watched the eclipse, which was a life-changing moment for him, he said.

French teacher Dr. Niamh Duggan spent her summer in Ireland, where she grew up, and later traveled to France. Duggan went to Avignon, where an annual theater festival was taking place.

The festival was Duggan’s most memorable experience that summer: “Theater and performance take over the entire city; the boundaries between official theaters and the rest of the city are broken,” she said.

For his break, English teacher Harry Bauld traveled to the Basque Country, where his wife is from. Bauld spent his time there reading, writing, eating, traveling around Spain, and spending time with friends and family, he said.

Though Bauld and his family travel to Basque every summer, he attended his first running of the bulls this summer, where he saw a man get gored, he said.

“I’ve never seen and never hope again to see so much blood,” Bauld said of the experience.

History teacher Dr. Kalil Oldham spent two months road tripping around the country, where he rock-climbed, backpacked, visited Yellowstone National Park, and ultimately watched the eclipse in South Carolina.

Conversely, English Teacher Andrew Fippinger described his summer as “not fun;” Fippinger spent the summer writing and researching to finish his dissertation for his PhD in English Literature.

Apart from their numerous adventures and experiences, most teachers have also been preparing for the coming school year and look forward to seeing their students in September, Casdin said.

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Horace Mann's Weekly Newspaper Since 1903
Teachers explore interests abroad over the summer