Fly South for the Spring
So, you have brought your students to Washington DC, Boston, and New York city. What’s next?
The South has a rich and challenging history in the establishment of our nation. What could be a better way to engage students in critical thinking than bringing them to a place of such complexity? We have to examine our full past – the highs and lows. What we are proud of, and what we have learned. The full story of America’s past cannot be swept under the rug. The South offers an opportunity to examine a broader range of stories and voices of America’s past. We have collected a few specific options to consider.
ALABAMA – Civil Rights, Art, and Culture
For the first time in our history, Academic Expeditions lead Civil Rights Tours in Alabama this spring. Beginning in Birmingham, walking the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, and then finally landing in Montgomery, groups explored the history of slavery, the school to prison pipeline, and the journey of the Civil Rights movement. Alabama offers the ability to dive deeply into history and heroes of the movement – from the famous and prolific Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, to today’s activists such as Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative.
Nothing compares to learning the history in the actual rooms where it happened. Stories about history transform into unforgettable, powerful experiences. We work with artist, activist, and educator Michelle Browder of More Than a Tour to help bring Alabama’s story to life. She states: “There is no other place on earth with historical juxtaposition of Native American Genocide, African Enslavement, Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights than Montgomery, Alabama. Montgomery is full of inter-generational life lessons. Life lessons that teaches the nation and the world empathy, faith, and resiliency. That’s Montgomery, Alabama!”
Begin with the history and add food and culture! From incredible BBQ and Southern cooking, to the world-renowned Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the historic Fitzgerald House – a spring break in Alabama is a rich, unforgettable experience!
SAVANNAH – Design, Science, and Architecture
With lush overhanging trees, haunted cemeteries, and a top-notch ecology program, Savannah is a destination not to be missed! Though nearby cities such as Atlanta often receive more attention, Savannah embodies Southern charm while boasting rich history in civil rights, the military, and more.
Savannah offers groups the unique opportunity to study history, science, and art all in one trip. Beginning in Chippewa Square (where Forest Gump ate from his box of chocolates), students can continue to deepen their knowledge of the south by visiting the Battlefield Memorial Park, as well as the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum. Art plays an important role in Savannah – from the training of younger artists at the famous Savannah College of Art and Design, to the Beach Institute African American Cultural Center, the only art museum in Savannah devoted to works by Black and African-American artists. Landscape and architecture also speak to the city’s history, most profoundly felt at Bonaventure Cemetery, featured in the novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Finally, at the Tybee Island Marine Science Center, students will explore the dynamics of Georgia’s barrier islands.
There’s so much to explore here, that “you never know what you’re going to get”!
NEW ORLEANS – Stories, Celebrations, One-of-a-Kind Culture
Last, but most certainly not least, is New Orleans.
New Orleans is a vibrant place with unlimited options, a melting pot of cultures, food, and musical heritage: you can learn about Creole culture, the origins of jazz, and the art of the Mardi Gras masks and parades – all in one place! The city itself is a sight to behold: there’s the grand architecture of the Garden District and the ornate wrought iron of the French Quarter, juxtaposed with the spooky cemeteries, which have their own tales to tell. A tour of the Louisiana Wetlands brings groups up close to the swamp’s wildlife and teaches students about this important environmental resource.
This beautiful city is no stranger to conflict, and that history has much to tell us about our nation. Visiting a plantation tells the story of slaves throughout the south; exhibits about Hurricane Katrina illuminate the socio-economics of the city; a tour of the city opens one’s eyes to the challenges of the levies and housing. These conversations bring students one step closer from being travelers, to engaged citizens.
There is much to celebrate in New Orleans, always, and the trip would not be complete without trying some of its signature dishes: beignets at Café Du Monde, gumbo, jambalaya, and muffulettas, just to name a few.
The South has so much to offer students of all ages including history, art, architecture, music, cultural diversity, and food. Reach out to Academic Expeditions today to learn about some of our existing itineraries, or to collaborate with us to fashion something new.