Hopkins students and teachers immersed themselves in cultures and customs outside of their own this summer through global education trips to Scotland and Guatemala.
Drama Directors Michael Calderone and Hope Hartup led sixteen members of the Hopkins Drama Association (HDA) on a tour of the largest theatre festival in the world: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe from July 31 to August 11. Students explored, toured and performed in Scotland’s ancient capital along with 4,400 other international productions.
Over the course of their stay, the group fell into a daily routine. Upon waking up in their University of Edinburgh dorms where they prepared family-style meals, they would walk to their festival venue, Paradise Green, to warm up before their morning performance. Their production, “Shakespeare on a Shoestring: The Comedy of Errors!” is an original adaptation of the play developed in Calderone’s Ensemble Theater in Production Class two years earlier. The hour-long retelling of Shakespeare's first play is done in the "shoestring style" with minimal scenery and “maximum fun,” engaging audiences of all ages with physical comedy and audience asides explaining the plot. According to Calderone, they had fairly good audiences for each performance, by Festival standards. Their afternoons were spent promoting their show along the Royal Mile, taking in as many Fringe shows as they could fit in (an unofficial count of 28 shows for the company), and exploring the city. One of their days was spent on a day trip into the countryside, where they visited historic Scottish landmarks including The Kelpies sculpture, the Falkirk Wheel, the William Wallace Memorial, and Doune Castle, a film location for Outlander, Game of Thrones and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
The students took home unforgettable memories of performing on an international stage, seeing world-class theatre, bonding with classmates, and the challenges and triumphs of traveling abroad in large groups. Click here to read an article profiling Mike Calderone and his long history with the Fringe from the Scotland Spotlight.
At the same time in the Southern Hemisphere, a delegation of 15 Hopkins students traveled to Guatemala for a service trip with faculty members Susan Bennitt and Ian Guthrie from August 4 to 14.
The group worked at the Pacaja North School, painting small classrooms a cheery, bright yellow where hundreds of Mayan students from preschool to sixth grade attend daily. Beyond the established curriculum, they saw the extra care the teachers gave to the children in providing extra hugs and sweet treats to be sure their stomachs were full. “We were amazed every day at the energy that broke loose when waves of kids came out for recess,” Bennitt shared. “Massive, intense games of soccer, tag and top spinning took place in play yard in the heart of the school until it was time to hit the books again.” Hopkins students had ample opportunity to use their Spanish, play games and share dance moves with the children, who by the second day were already greeting them with hugs as they arrived in the morning.
Over the course of the trip, they became part of the heartbeat of the Pacaja North School, while going home with Mayan families to spend their afternoons. “Three and four generations live together in modest structures surrounded by plots of planted corn, with turkeys, chickens, kittens, dogs and winding paths to the local well and laundry washing spot. Inside, there was a kitchen area with a hearth and one bedroom, no matter how many people lived at the home.” The group remarked that despite their modest living conditions, these families met their Hopkins guests with generosity, grace and kindness, sharing everything they owned.
The group had opportunities to learn of the Mayan cosmo vision from scholars from the University of Texas, and of perspectives on the Civil War from a guerilla commander and a Major from the government army. They saw Mayan ruins, enjoyed the Fuentes Georginas hot springs, learned to salsa dance, and saw ceremonial altars in the Chichicastenango market.
The students and their chaperones took away a unique view of Mayan culture, gained new perspectives on cultural differences and challenges, and a renewed enthusiasm to become active global citizens.
Photos from Edinburgh
Photos from Guatemala