As a part of ‘Educational Tour’, Jain International Residential School (JIRS) organized a trip to Spain from 15 to 23 November 2018. JIRS encourages learners to participate in educational tours and thereby motivates students to develop the interest in learning.
Spain and Portugal were chosen as our destination as it is one of Europe’s most rich and rewarding destinations. Spain lends itself perfectly to an array of curriculum areas – to take our footy team on a sports tour to remember, learn the Spanish language from locals, or immerse in Art and History, all with an unavoidable dose of the local culture and cuisine.
Students visited Plaça de Catalunya which is located at the heart of Barcelona. A favorite meeting point, it's also the geographical space that separates the districts of Ciutat Vella and the Eixample. Steeped in history, the Plaça de Catalunya is the nerve center of the Catalan capital. The Plaça Catalunya, with its large shopping centers and department stores, is constantly beaming with people. It connects to Avenue Passeig de Gràcia. Avenue Passeig de Gràcia was from the beginning designed to be Barcelona's Grand Avenue. It is Barcelona's most elegant avenue and one of the best architectural walks in the city with lots of modernist buildings. The quality and quantity of modernist buildings are unrivaled.
Reveling in the glory of the modernist era, we headed towards the most iconic symbol of Barcelona Sagrada Familia - Church of the Holy Family. It is a large unfinished Roman Catholic church designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. We were mesmerized by the beautiful and intrinsic art on the ceiling. Gaudí's facade is amazing, rich with detail and yet somehow organic. We felt a sense of mysterious comfort inside.
Students visited the largest stadium in Spain and Europe, and the third largest football stadium in the world in terms of capacity. The ambiance of the stadium inspired our school football players to become more focused and determined to realize their dream of playing world football.
The port city of Valencia lies on Spain’s southeastern coast, where the Turia River meets the Mediterranean Sea. It’s known for its City of Arts and Sciences, with futuristic structures including a planetarium, an oceanarium, and an interactive museum. Valencia is packed with stunning architecture. We saw the famous monuments, notable civic buildings of Moorish architecture and the University of Valencia. We visited Europe’s largest underwater marine center L’Oceanogràfic of Valencia where different marine habitats are represented. It is integrated inside a complex known as the City of Arts and Science. The Oceanogràfic features the largest aquarium tank in Europe and houses more than 45,000 marine creatures. We saw different species of fish, mammals, birds, reptiles, and invertebrates — amongst these were sharks, penguins, dolphins, sea lions, walruses, beluga whales, and many more.
It was time to discover the capital city of Spain – Madrid. On this onward journey, they visited the port city of Tarragona. Tarragona offered us a myriad of Roman and medieval sights, and breathtaking beaches. They also visited Madrid's Royal Palace, a beautiful baroque structure which is Madrid's largest building. The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, but it is only used for state ceremonies. The students were taken in by the green oasis in the heart of the city - El Retiro Park. This green space offered us a peaceful interval of relief under the deep-blue sky. The Temple of Debod, situated in the park is an ancient Egyptian temple that was donated to Spain by the Egyptian government to save it from floods following the construction of the great Aswan Dam.
The city of Toledo holds a cultural and monumental heritage of several historic civilizations. UNESCO has declared it as a world heritage city. It is known as the "City of the Three Cultures", for the cultural influences of Christianity, Islam and Jew reflect in its history. The three coexisted peacefully for many years. While on our walk through Toledo, we entered the narrow old quarters and admired the attractive and impressive architecture. This walk led us to the church of St. Tome, the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes and the house museum Victorio Macho, located over the river Tagus. The view from there was picturesque. We also visited the Primate Cathedral. The Primate Cathedral of Toledo is one of the three 13th-century high gothic cathedrals in Spain and is considered to be the magnum opus of the gothic style architecture in Spain. We discovered the facade of the Old Palace of Justice as we explored its vast grounds. We marveled at the City Hall's symmetrical spires and stone arches that have stood the test of time.
They traveled Sintra hills to visit the Palace of Pena on the rocky peak. It exemplifies the 19th century Romanticism style of architecture. The palace is a mix of vividly painted terraces, decorative battlements and mythological statues, all of which stand at stark contrast to the lush greens of the forests that encircle Pena. Then explored the Monastery of Lady of Pena, built by King Manuel I in1511 and later acquired by King Ferdinand II. Also visited the Castle of Moors and the Quinta da Regaleira. The Castle of Moors, situated on a high hilltop above the town of Sintra dates back to the Moorish occupation of Portugal. The walls and towers are the romantic decorative work of the 19th century King Ferdinand II. The Quinta da Regaleira is a decorative 20th-century residence that is situated in the town of Sintra. The UNESCO has declared the two as world heritage sites.
This journey was experiential learning. The students learnt about the historical sites and the cultural aspects. The educational tour to Spain provided the opportunity for students to encounter and explore novel things in an authentic setting. Exposure to new experiences has increased the interest and engagement of our students in the process of learning. This kind of learning has resulted in effective gains such as more positive feelings towards learning and knowledge. Students have actually seen and enriched their knowledge of places and people they have learned about in the classroom. They are definitely at their creative best and are more adaptable. They have witnessed gender equality and empowerment of women in the true sense. Staying in a group in a foreign land, interacting not just with their peers but also with people of the land who speak a different language, has taught our students to be more tolerant and understanding of others’ needs, respectful towards a different culture, and above all has taught them a vital lesson of peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Perhaps most important of all, our students have gained new insights into their own culture and a more global perspective.