Ardis and Kerianne talk about our fantastic Iceland trip!
Can you give me a quick summary of the trip?
Most Grand Classroom trips last 6-7 days 5-6 nights on the island and we travel some 900 - 1100 miles. Some days can be long, leaving a hotel at 8:00 am and arriving back at 6:00 PM having dinner at 7:00 PM. We travel mostly in the South West part of the island surrounded by all kinds of natural forces like, the volcanoes, the ocean, the glaciers, the water streams, rivers and lakes, the weather to name the strongest ones. Iceland has two locations on Unesco´s World Heritage List. We most often visit both: Þingvellir and the National Park Waterglacier (Vatnajökulsþjóðgarð).
More specifically I focus is on:
1. Geology: For those interested in geology Iceland is a paradise our geologists say. I just name those rare phenomenon like rift valleys and volcanic zones easily
accessible where we travel.
2. Outdoors: To enjoy Iceland one needs to be willing to walk. So that is what we do. On the average we walk/hike some 2-5 miles daily. Those routes are easy, marked trails
3. Culture/History: The settlement took place in the Viking Age in the 800s by the Vikings. The students get brief description on how it happened and how the community developed. One might say it is a miracle how people survived under those harsh conditions through the middle ages. Iceland was in those old days among the poorest communities in Europe and the population fluctuated around the 50 thousand level.
4. Modern Life: Now the number of people living in Iceland counts some 370 thousand and the standard of living ranks among the highest in the world. The main industries are tourism, fishing, power extensive industries then we have the farming, and lately a thriving creative industries. Following the economic success Icelanders have had the wisdom to invest heavily in education and our health system. Icelanders put people first I would say. We run many universities now and we maintain we enjoy the lowest infant mortality rate in the world.
5. Activites: Horseback riding, snorkeling at a fissure on the gap between plates, glacier walking, cave visiting, dog sledding, relaxing at the Blue Lagoon, river rafting, service
projects and school visits.
What are the favorite moments - from the kids´ perspective –
from the teachers´ perspective?
1. They are often inspired by the beauty and power of waterfalls, the hikes and even the strong wind we can experience unexpectedly and suddenly. These forces are not only beautiful and fun to enjoy but importantly supply the vast quantity of green energy we enjoy. Certainly the students like the activities selected like the glacial walking, snorkeling and relaxing in the Blue Lagoon.
2. It surprises me when I ask the kids what they like the most: many mention the food. They even say they have had the best fish ever.
1. They love our nature the most I would say. Particularly the geology and the interaction between the new lava and water.
2. They also like the accommodations and the service. I really sense they feel safe. Many teachers visit with their families later. I find that the best recommendation.
What is the best part of bringing students on these trips?
Experiencing that they like to be travelling in Iceland. They love the open spaces, those vast areas or approximately 70-140 miles distances visible in the landscape. It is also seeing the students appreciate and enjoy the different activities and the learning experience they get. I never forget when finishing glacial walk with a student group and one 15 years old boy said to me: “Árdís, I will be back with my family. I am going to show my kids the glaciers before they melt away”.
What are you most looking forward to in getting groups back
I love experiencing the Icelandic nature through the eyes of our guests. It is rewarding to visit some secret places hardly anyone goes to so the students can feel the solitude and peace
the nature offers.
What is your favorite part about this trip?
Being with these attentive privileged young people and the teachers. It is always a learning experience for me. Sometimes they like music and sing on the bus. Then I take the opportunity and teach them a song or two in Icelandic. Sometimes the students like to learn some cursing in Icelandic if the teachers allow I teach them some. I like the joy those school groups bring. They make me realize that travelling to different places experiencing different parts of the world make people on our planet better equipped to phase the challenges ahead.