A Road Trip with Travel Programs

Exploring the Natural World

James Albanese ’19

Throughout my past four years at Hotchkiss, I’ve had the luxury of going on two Hotchkiss-sponsored Spring Break trips: one to New Zealand, the other to Iceland. Centered around adventure and an appreciation for the natural world, these trips provided me with some truly extraordinary experiences. Some of my most memorable experiences include being glued to the faint glow of another galaxy through a high-powered telescope in one of the world’s only dark sky preserves, kayaking through a narrow passage walled by the majestic fjords seen in “The Lord of The Rings” film series, cautiously descending into the largest man-made glacial ice cave, and falling asleep underneath a panoramic view of the northern lights which danced delicately in shades of pale green. My fondest memories also include spending time with people from Hotchkiss who I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to know otherwise; I’m lucky to say that some of my best friends at Hotchkiss are those that I got to meet on these short, yet highly meaningful trips. I would recommend that everyone take advantage of the opportunities they have at their immediate disposal and travel with Hotchkiss – my only regret is that I didn’t do more of the same.


Spasiba, Soviets, and Salmon

Britney Douglas ’19

Last year, I was able to venture outside of the United States for the first time to visit Russia, an experience I have not stopped thinking about nor will I ever forget. This trip was somewhat of a large deal for my family, who have really only explored up and down the East Coast – a wide area, but small in terms of the scale of this world – not only because it’s Russia, but also [because of] the timing with the [U.S.] election and heightened emotions of the average American citizen at the time. So, to transition from not having left the country’s borders to traveling to a country whose relationship with the U.S. I would describe as tumultuous is something, naturally, that still remains on my mind.

My fascination with the culture and the overall way of life led me to take Russian History last year. Going to Russia really opened my eyes, and even now, though I continue to learn, my understanding of the [their] culture is simply a drop in the bucket when it comes to Russian history. To think that every single country on this Earth is just as rich in terms of civilization and life is simply unimaginable. The trip exposed me to a new kind of diversity, given it was the first place I’ve been [to] where I didn’t speak the native language.


Digging Deep

Emma Contiguglia ’19

Nervously boarding the plane to Tel Aviv, I had no clue that this trip would change my life. Over the course of three weeks of digging at the archaeological site of Tel Kabri and traveling throughout Israel, I came to realize that archaeology is my passion. When I arrived back in the United States, I couldn’t wait to find my next archaeological dig. Participating in this program allowed me to explore a new field of study that I otherwise would never have had a chance to experience and to learn about Israel’s culture. I have discovered what I now believe will be my future career.


De-familiarization and the Pleasures of Re-knowing 

Dear Liu ’19

During a school-organized art program to Florence in the summer of my freshman year, we roamed museums full of famous works by Caravaggio and Botticelli. I clearly saw how Western artistic sensibilities differed from those in China. I wanted to share this realization with my peers, a primarily Western audience, as well as examine the mutual influences of Chinese and Western art. When I returned to school, I proposed an art-focused trip to Beijing with these objectives.

Finally, my program became a reality last summer. A group from Hotchkiss traveled to Beijing for two weeks, visiting art studios and conversing with Chinese artists. Afterward, we produced work influenced by our trip.

Not here, I thought, not yet. Opening my eyes, I caught the sight of the sun peeking through moving, dense forests. We still had around 40 minutes until we reached an un-repaired section of the Great Wall. I shaded my eyes and looked out, seeing dust clouds and Cinnamomum Camphora-like trees, a contrast to the accustomed vibrancy of the Central Business District. Haven’t I been here before? All things seemed to slow in motion – the trees evoking exotic places, some French countryside course. I had never seen such a sight, and although I was sad about the absence of film in my camera, I lovingly experienced the minutes completely unburdened.

For two days, our group stayed in a village on the outskirts of Beijing. During the orange yawn of day, I would circle on the porcelain-like floor that reflected swirling sun rays in waves – lilac curtains, red flowers, red China flags, all moving along the tingling wind’s delight. That night, we had a grilled fresh-caught fish. All the dishes [travelled up on] a rope from the kitchen below: a new dining experience. Water was scarce and had to be filled in the kitchen. I felt the warmth of re-knowing my city and played a few pieces of Coltrane cries that slowly bled into the place’s cool.

After a little sleep, Beijing wakes up for me again in the bright sunny morning. Though reluctant to go home, I had after all [yearned] to sleep in my own bed. The recurring transformations of reflections, revelation, and endless variations of the Beijing land urged me to conclude that transformations are never truly complete. This trip, experienced with my classmates and teachers, allowed me to perceive my city with a new pair of eyes.