I was fortunate to join the art trip that visited New York during half term and it was the first opportunity I have had to spend a sustained amount of time in the ‘city that never sleeps’. Our accommodation was right in the heart of Manhattan, just off Times Square, and so we were in able to walk to many of the places on the itinerary. These included the Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art and Empire State Building, as well as a poignant visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on the site of the World Trade Centre.
Although the weather was extremely cold, with record temperatures recorded in the time we were there, the students on tour were both fine ambassadors for Sidcot and great company. One of the highlights of the trip – and there were many – was a morning spent at Brooklyn Friends School. Founded in 1867, the school lies in the heart of Brooklyn in the shadow of the famous bridge. We were very warmly met by staff and students alike and the time allocated to the visit flew by. As well as seeing their facilities, we were able to get clear insight into another Quaker school. From the outside it seemed very different: a city school jostling for position amongst the steel and concrete of the skyscrapers, the antithesis of our rural setting of greenery and countryside. However, we were all clearly struck by the similarity of feel between BFS and Sidcot: it was open, friendly, inclusive and vibrant and our students were able to connect immediately with their students, as did we with the Brooklyn staff.
We came away from BFS with friendships established and a commitment to maintain contact. We came away from New York with a lasting impression of the best this marvellous city has to offer: magnificent, eclectic art galleries and a rich melting pot of humanity with a pulse that is palpable. I felt very privileged to be part of the trip, not least because of the company of students and colleagues. New York was an impressive backdrop, but the people were the stars of the show.
IWK – February 2016