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Western Europe 2020, a window on the world
Students on Western Europe trip 2020 participate in a French cooking class.

Broadening minds, extending boundaries, and learning skills to examine our world are some of the benefits 30 student travelers and four educators received on their 10-day, school-sponsored trip to Western Europe.

Students on Western Europe 20 trip.

“International experiences continue to give students a view into the world beyond them.  They meet new people and experience new cultures, and they are absolutely different when they come back,” said AP History Educator Taylor Blanton, who organizes the Western Europe trip. “Travel changes lives, and we are so happy to be able to provide these types of opportunities at Cardinal Gibbons!  We know that next year’s trip to Berlin, Prague, and Munich will be just as meaningful!”

The Western Europe 2020 trip took place from February 13 – 23. In that time, the Gibbons travelers immersed themselves in the sights, sounds, and history of Western Europe, by visiting such cities as London and Paris, as well as the Normandy region. In these places, students and educators not only visited landmarks such as Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower, and new this year, Parliament, they also participated in a French cooking class and saw “Les Miserables” in London’s West End.

Students on Western Europe 2020 trip in Normandy, France.

As has become a tradition when visiting Normandy, the Gibbons travelers held a memorial service in the Normandy American Cemetery. The service included honoring nine individuals with ties to our school or the local area, including Gibbons Alumnus Captain Philip Edelen,  a WWII chaplain and a priest of the Diocese of Raleigh. The students placed flowers at their gravesites and said words of thanks for their service. 

“It is always meaningful to see the students experience the places in real life that they have studied back at school,” noted Blanton.  “While there were obvious places like the D-Day beaches in Normandy, it was amazing to see things you wouldn’t necessarily think of, such as discussions that students would have that tied back to something from English class about the works of Rodin when we visited his museum in Paris.”

Another trip tradition is that travelers, when possible, visit with Gibbons Alumni who are living and working or studying in Western Europe or just visiting.  Alumnus Jack Sabye ’17 – a student at Providence College, studying abroad this semester at the London School of Economics - joined Gibbons travelers for lunch in London.

​For current students, the trip was a memory that will last a lifetime.

Students enjoying time in France.

“It was an experience that I will never forget. Immersing yourself in different cultures is such an enriching experience,” said Carson Williams ’20.  “I would encourage anyone with the opportunity to go on the trip to take advantage of this opportunity. It’s truly a once in a lifetime experience."

Kendall McClellan '20 added: "The trip was my first time out of the country, and I couldn't have asked for a better experience..."

To see highlights of this year’s trip, search #westerneurope20 on Twitter. Registration already has begun for the 2021 trip, so any students interested in going should reach out to Mr. Blanton for details.

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