Haberdashers Askes Boys School

"We had so much opportunity to develop, we were given so much freedom."

Jeremy Black, Professor of History at Exeter University.

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History and Politics trip to New York and Washington

During the recent February half term, a group of 28 sixth-form History and Politics students undertook a six-day trip to Washington DC and New York, accompanied by Mr Simm, Dr Sloan and Mr Clark.

In Washington the group were able to see many of the famous sites of the United States’ capital, including the Washington Monument, the White House, Arlington National Cemetery, the Jefferson Memorial, the National Archives, Ford’s theatre and the Abraham Lincoln museum, the Supreme Court and a tour of the Capitol building. An undoubted highlight of visit to Washington was the Lincoln Memorial where Dr Martin Luther King Jr. gave his legendary “I have a Dream” speech to Civil Rights marchers in 1963. Fifty years on from that famous oration, HABS can truly claim to be a happy multi-racial community where students are judged not the colour of the skin, but on the content of their character. We were fortunate as well to have the rare privilege of visiting the inside of the World Bank building, courtesy of Udayan Tripathi OH (Hendersons 2008) who works there. Udayan had very kindly arranged for a panel of young professionals from Washington DC to speak to the boys about their experiences working in the famous institutions of the city. The sparkling discussion ranged from the fight against climate change, to the importance of networking, to who are the rising stars in US political life and the wisdom of HABS-own PE teacher and guru Mr Metcalfe.

The group moved on to Gettysburg, site of the most bloody battle of the US Civil War. As we learned of how Union General Meade’s Army of the Potomac defeated Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, we had the benefit of an expert guide who has taken two Presidents around the battlefield and has been chosen each year by Sir Alex Ferguson as his personal guide to help him understand the battle better.

The final leg of the trip was New York City, with the group staying in the heart of Manhattan just a short walk from Times Square. We managed to visit a number of diverse sites associated with New York City’s rich history such as City Hall, the 9/11 Memorial, Wall Street, the Apollo theatre in Harlem, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Chinatown, Grant’s Tomb and the Frick Collection. During a Harbour Cruise, we saw not only the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, but also the damage done by last October’s Hurricane Sandy and we were able to marvel at how quickly the City has bounced back after the cyclone. Following on from the Headmaster’s visit to academic institutions in the US in the autumn, we had a tour of the campus of Columbia University by RaphaĆ«lle, a current third year student studying at President Obama’s undergraduate Alma Mater. The tour included not only the history of the institution but also information about the difference of the US university system to that of the UK, about Columbia’s unique first year course which sees all students reading a list of common texts, about life in New York as a student and how to apply to a US colleges from the UK. Journeys up the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Center allowed for stunning views of Manhattan by night and by day, as well as many brilliant photo opportunities.

The group would like to express their gratitude to all our guides and to all those who supported the trip, most especially Mr Simm for masterminding and leading such a memorable adventure.

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