The greats of Europe in 10 days: 33 students immersed in culture

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By Minh Tu Ung
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(Photo courtesy of Ruth Ravina-Koethe) Under the guidance of their expert tour guide, the students deepened their knowledge of European landmarks and the history behind them.

Exploring the vastly different world of Europe, 33 students, accompanied by four chaperones and their tour leader, Fine Arts teacher Ruth Ravina-Koethe, spent 10 days enlightening themselves of the foreign culture. The trip, which lasted from March 15 to 25, had students visit Dublin, Wales, London and Paris. The tour, put together by the Education First (EF) organization, included visiting the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and even “The Making of Harry Potter” at the Warner Bros. Studio London.

“I learned a lot more about how (European) culture and society works because some of the norms that they have are a lot different than the ones in Hawaii. I just got to learn more about how they interact with each other and (how) their society works and their government systems. So I really liked that. It’s not something you can learn in a classroom, it’s an interaction thing,” said Senior Mikala Regohos.

The tour consisted of many trademark locations, such as the Palace of Versailles, the Notre Dame Cathedral and Big Ben, all of which accommodated the different preferences of the students. “I really liked the Louvre in France. I got to see a lot of ancient sculptures and paintings that they did. Art is not really my forte but (the Louvre) interested me enough to like it,” said Regohos. Not only was the art captivating, so were the interactions with the culture. “My favorite part was going to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ireland and riding the ferry from Ireland to England because we met people there that are our age,” Senior Danelle Isabella Pimentel stated.

(Photo courtesy of Ruth Ravina-Koethe) Posing in the scenic country, the group of students manage to fit a quick group picture in their busy, adventure-packed schedule.

Unlike most trips for MHS, the Europe trip wasn’t restricted to any student or class, and didn’t have a specific educational goal. “Our goal for the trip is to enlighten the students; it’s an educational trip, we hope to enlighten the students with different countries’ culture, history, art and architecture,” Ravina-Koethe stated. “Each country definitely has things that are their strong points. Some are literature and some are art and architecture. It varies. It really depends on the different countries.”

For many students, this trip was their first time going to Europe, and for some, off the island. “It was really fun. I got to experience a lot of different things that you wouldn’t normally experience here. It was an eye-opening experience. I realized that there’s so much more to the world that you could learn,” said Pimentel. Regohos added, “It’s a lot colder than I’m used to here in Hawaii but I mean, I got to experience a lot of new things, new cultures. A lot of older stuff, because I went to Japan earlier in the year, and it’s more modernized over there, but then in Europe, it’s more old-school style because they haven’t rebuilt anything at all, really, except for many of the buildings. But the streets are so small, and there’s still a lot of old-style buildings there, so you can feel how different the culture is and how the vibe (is).”

Given the chance, both the students and the chaperones would go back to Europe. “Ten days was really short. There was so much to do but so little time. We felt kind of rushed when we went to Europe. But, I would definitely go again just for the experience in general, because it’s something that people in Hawaii don’t really get to experience because we got the Asian side and the Asian culture (but) the European/Caucasian culture is not really prominent, so you don’t get to see the difference in culture,” Regohos said.

Throughout the classes and subjects at MHS, many trips to explore different countries are available yearly. EF tours often organize the educational trips for MHS, one of the soonest being a Japan trip in the spring of next year.