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Over the March break, a group of 10 Elmwood students and two faculty members embarked on an amazing trip around Europe. We visited Berlin, Amsterdam, Brugge, Ypres, Vimy, Paris and London. Our group had an unforgettable experience, as we saw amazing monuments, memorials, and scenery.
Our trip started in Berlin. Berlin held many sights to see, and our group tried to see as many as possible. One particularly moving experience was a guided tour of a Second World War concentration camp. This occurred on our second day in Berlin. We took a bus to Oranienburg, a small town outside of Berlin, where we visited the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. This was an educational and emotional experience for us all. It gave us a small taste of what Jewish people had to go through during the Second World War . I think it is fair to say that this visit was something that we will all remember forever.
After Berlin we headed to Amsterdam. During our day in Amsterdam we were privileged to visit Anne Frank House. The long and much anticipated wait was definitely worthwhile. Walking through the house and reading the various quotes and informational texts gave us a sense of what it would have been like to be in hiding, fearing for one’s life. The blacked out windows were surreal, definitely giving us the sense of how it could have felt being in hiding, feeling at first safe, then trapped. It was incredible to think that we were walking down the same halls that Anne Frank actually walked, and that her posters still remained glued to the wall. The experience was unforgettable and contextualised our understanding of what we had only known through books and classroom learning.
Our group then travelled to Ypres, making a short pit stop in Brugge to eat lunch and enjoy some truly fabulous Belgian chocolate. We didn’t stay in Ypres for long, but it was certainly an unforgettable experience. We visited the war memorial there and then in the evening, we watched the Last Post ceremony. This moving ceremony occurs daily and is a tribute from the citizens of Ypres in remembrance of the war that was fought so long ago. This ceremony made us wonder if we think about those who lost their lives in the war enough. While we have one designated day each year to commemorate the devastating effects the war had, the people of Ypres reflect on what happened each and every day.
After an action-packed day in Ypres, the group bused to Vimy to visit Vimy Ridge and the trenches dug a century ago. The Vimy Ridge memorial was a highly anticipated stop for our group and it was quite an enlightening visit as well. The memorial was large and honoured the contributions of Canadians in the First World War. The group learned more about Canadian history and seeing all of the names of fallen soldiers really opened our eyes to the sad reality of the “war to end all wars.” We also stopped at the Beaumont Hamel Newfoundland Memorial to honour the soldiers from the Newfoundland division who sacrificed their lives during the Great War.
On our eighth day we visited Juno Beach. It was beautiful and serene and completely silent, except for the sound of the ocean. It was hard to imagine the tragedy and turmoil that overran the beaches only a few decades ago.
Next our group got to visit Paris and in Paris, we were awed by one of the most beautiful sights we’ve ever seen: Montmartre. This is a little artist’s district on a mountain right in Paris. From Montmartre, you can see the entire city. There’s a lovely little church there, and the art that is on display is absolutely gorgeous.
After a beautiful few days in Paris, our group headed to our final stop in London. We spent a few days shopping, touring, and enjoying the last moments of our trip. One of the highlights was our visit to the Churchill War Rooms. We only had a couple days in London, but we made time to visit these war rooms. They were spectacular! We had a personal audio guide that took us through Churchill’s war experience. Most of the rooms had been in as authentic a manner as they could have been. We learned so much about England’s experience of the Second World War. We all agree that the Churchill War Rooms fascinated us, and all would recommend it to anyone who likes history and wants to learn more about the Second World War.
Our entire group had a fantastic time traveling around Europe. We saw numerous important historical places and landmarks, the ones we’ve only ever seen in books or on TV. We also learned so much about history, not only of Canada’s role in the world, but the entire world itself. The experience was enlightening. We would like to thank our faculty supervisors, Miss Walsh and Mrs. Wiley, for organising and accompanying us on this amazing and unforgettable journey.
Contributed by Hannah C., Grade 10, with input from her fellow travelers
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