Once again this fall, Notre Dame students experienced education beyond the classroom. For a third year in a row, a group journeyed to New York during the first week in November to see the sights and sounds of the big city — and learn something about history and culture while doing so.
Thanks to the organizational efforts of “tour guide” Mark Mayfield, the 28 young people were able to see almost everything there is to see in “The Big Apple” in just three days. The experience was intense, inspirational, invigorating and definitely “a wonderful opportunity for our Notre Dame students,” according to Principal Ron Glasgow.
The tradition began in fall 2008, when Mayfield offered to organize and chaperone an educational trip for the seniors. At the time, Mayfield’s son Craig was a senior at Notre Dame. A world traveler himself, Mayfield created an itinerary that provided a view of the major points of interest in the New York area in a short amount of time.
However, since the trip meant that the students would miss three days of school, Mayfield decided to hold them accountable for the educational part of the tour. He assigned various landmarks and locations about which students had to give a speech, and he recorded the presentations on-site.
Part of the tour was focused on immigration. “We all have ancestors of foreign descent, mostly European,” Mayfield said. The story of their coming to America was enhanced with a visit to Ellis Island as well as a tour of the Statue of Liberty.
Other highlights included the visits to the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, the United Nations headquarters, Times Square, The New York Stock Exchange, Columbia University, Central Park, Grand Central Terminal, Chinatown, Ground Zero, and much more. Students also saw two Broadway musicals and visited with 2002 Notre Dame graduate Sajni Patel, who lives and works in the city.
The students returned from the journey with understanding of their heritage and an appreciation of our nation’s history. Mayfield stated, “They saw a broader spectrum of society than would be possible in Burlington, from the homeless to foreign-language-speaking immigrants to a place where people are gone but not forgotten —the World Trade Center site.”
Along with Mayfield, Notre Dame teachers Nita Carlson, Mary Jo Miller and Ryan Rump served as chaperones.
Next year there will be a break in the trip tradition. That’s because the Notre Dame choir is planning to go to Rome, just as the singers did in spring 2007. So that the juniors could still take part in the New York experience, they joined the seniors on the journey east this year.
No doubt Mayfield will continue to plan future trips for Notre Dame classes. “Mark Mayfield is a master at providing an educational experience at a very reasonable price,” Glasgow said. “We are very grateful to him for doing so.”