UAHS Students travel through European cities and attend a human rights summit conference

by Maeve O’Brien, ’16

Over the summer, a group of students from UAHS embarked on a trip that led them throughout renowned Western European cities. Over the course of 11 days, students traveled from Amsterdam to Paris to Geneva to Davos, where they attended a three-day human rights summit.

The trip commenced with students flying into Amsterdam on June 19, where they spent three days touring the city. They then stayed for two days each in Paris and Geneva before taking a train to Davos for the summit. Their time in the cities were largely spent sightseeing, shopping, eating and visiting museums, palaces and churches.

Their days consisted of traveling with the Education First tour company, but included a few hours of free time each day to roam the cities independently and observe the life and culture there.

Students from Upper Arlington also traveled with people from a private school in North Carolina.

UAHS Senior Erica Hartmus was one of the student attendees and enjoyed the experience of seeing Europe with new friends.

“Personally, I very much enjoyed getting to know [the students on the trip] and I am still in contact with a few of them.” Hartmus said. “It was very fun experiencing something new alongside people you haven’t met before.”

While the first week was largely composed of touring and sightseeing, the last five days were spent at an informative conference that was based around the idea that education should be a human right. During the the conference in Davos, students woke early to walk to the summit, where they experienced days filled with speeches, workshops, and constructive activities.

“We first listened to a few different keynote speakers, then headed over to morning workshops where we learned about anything from slam poetry to the benefits of having outdoor classrooms,” Hartmus said.

After a break for lunch, students reconvened into groups called innovation stations where they learned about design thinking and created several projects. This was followed by another round of speakers before dinner and a social event, such as a dance party, carnival or dessert.

The content of the conference was centered around the issue of global access to education. The summit taught different ways to combat this issue and fix such injustices on a local scale as well.

One of the highlight speakers was Sir Ken Robinson, an English author and speaker who was made famous for his series of Ted Talks pertaining to modern edcuation.

“Listening to and meeting the different speakers allowed me to really understand how important having an education is to people all over the world, and how in need some places are for innovation in their education systems,” Hartmus said.

Overall, the trip provided not only the memories of visiting famous and historic cities, but also the informative experience of the human rights summit.

“The trip has shaped what I want to do with my future and my career,” Hartmus said. “[It] has taught me so much about the world around me.”