I have a love-hate relationship with field trips. I love the opportunity to go outside the classrooms to find new experiences. The hate or I should say the stressful part is unexpected possibilities. When venturing outside the school gate, even the best-laid plans can go awry.
Our adventure to a downtown museum allowed time for traffic, construction, and child-related delays. The walk to a historic part of the city was mapped, and a 1 to 4 adult to child ratio felt comfortable. Yet all along the way, the unexpected kept popping up along our three-mile walk past museums, monuments, and government buildings. None of these obstacles derailed the trip. In fact, in some way, each experience made the trip.
When we arrived at the museum, A’s mom pushed her wheelchair up to the base of a steep stairway. There had to an access point, but where? A construction worker saw the situation and didn’t hesitate to ask if he could help. Next thing I know, he’s carried her up two flights. Problem solved as well as an act of kindness demonstrated for all. This is how we act in the world as helpers.
After the tour, our adventure began, past MOCA and the line of people waiting at The Broad, past Disney Music Hall with its blindingly bright reflective exterior, to the grassy Grand Park where we would have lunch. I hear comments.
“I’ve never been downtown.”
“I”ve never been on a field trip like this before.”
“Big streets scare me.”
And each of these thoughts starts a conversation about the place, the world.
After lunch, we gather up our things, count up students. Make sure each child in with their chaperone, and we venture off. More crosswalks, cars, and people, past City Hall and more comments pop up.
“What do they do there?”
“My feet hurt.”
“What are those tents for?”
Explanations and conversations follow each other.
“See that bridge ahead,” I say. “The walkway is narrow. We have to walk single file.” The walkway is narrow because of the homeless encampment that seems to exist on every freeway overpass in Los Angeles. This is our world that requires more conversation.
We arrive at Olvera Street. It’s short and crowded. Filled with vendors, delicious smells, traditional music, and more conversation.
“I wish I brought money,”
“I’m begging my parents to come here.”
“Where is the bus?”
We finish up at Union Station.
“Is this a hotel?”
“Just keep moving.”
“Is that our bus?”
Each unexpected encounter made this trip for me. Each one met with wonder allowing parts of the world to filter into our lives. Each one added to who we are and what the world is to us. A travel experience of kindness, difference, color, sadness and the inexplicable that I hope planted seeds for more in each of my students