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History and Politics trip to Washington DC and New York

 

During the autumn half-term 30 Sixth Form students went on the History and Politics trip to Washington DC and New York. DC is always beautiful at this time of year, but with the election of Donald Trump it felt very different and it is clear that the USA is a divided nation at the moment. This point was reiterated in a talk given to us by Andrew Sullivan, an old Reigatian, who is now a highly respected political commentator in the US. Andrew is a long time Republican supporter but he presented a rather pessimistic assessment of Trump’s first 10 months in office. Andrew was very generous with his time and it is clear that he holds dear memories of RGS. He was delighted, although a little shocked, to discover that he went to school with a number of parents of our students!

Hiliary Shelton, head of the NAACP within DC, gave us another excellent talk. Indeed, his answers proved very useful for our History students tackling their coursework essays on the civil rights movement. We also visited the major sights, such as the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington Cemetery and the Supreme Court. In our visit to Congress we were very fortunate to gain entry to a debate within the Senate where we saw Mitch McConnell, Republican Majority leader, and Chuck Schumer, Democrat Minority Leader, argue the merits of plans for healthcare and tax reform.

We left DC to transfer to New York. En route we stopped at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. The Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 was the scene of the deadliest battle of the Civil War and is often described as the war’s turning point with the Union delivering a decisive blow to Confederate forces. We were treated to an excellent tour of the various sights of the battle. We also saw a number of statutes including one of Robert E. Lee. For the past few months, arguments have raged within the US about keeping such statutes to such a controversial character.

We finally arrived in New York late in the evening. It is always a worry taking a school group to the hustle and bustle of New York, however the group excelled and Benedict S proved a master of the Metro system and helped plan our journeys. Indeed, his navigational skills even outshone our geography teacher’s! Our time in New York was again educationally beneficial. We visited Ellis Island and saw the experiences of many new immigrants to the USA in the early 20th century. We also spent three hours in the wonderful 9/11 Museum and a morning tour of the UN.

However, it was not just work and education as we donned our novelty baseball caps and Statute of Liberty hats to enjoy the sights and experiences of New York. This included various culinary delights and a Broadway Show. There was also time for some retail therapy. At this point the students educated the teachers on modern sartorial trends and there was even talk of a much needed make over!

The students on this trip were stars – they were well behaved and exhibited a great sense of humour. The teachers, Miss Green, Miss Holliss and Mr James were also wonderful and made the tour special.

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