On October 10th the upper secondary students (year 10-13) went on an integration trip to Zakopane. We have had quite a few new students joining us this year and we wanted all of the students to get to know each other since they are going to be spending the next few years together.
The trip had other goals as well. First, we learned about Zakopane. We took an interdisciplinary approach to learning about why the city is an important cultural center in Poland. We took this place as a case study and tried to piece together its story. This taught students how to learn through inquiry, and to look at a topic through different multidisciplinary lenses. Whether it is history, geography, biology, medicine, ethnography and so forth. We discussed the reasons why the city grew from just a few hundred to about 30,000 inhabitants today. We discussed the role that the tuberculosis epidemic played in drawing people to the city. The natural resources (iron ore) that attracted industry. But most of all, the freedom and inspiration that the mountains offered to repressed Polish artists. We learned about these different aspects by going to: Willa Oksza, an art gallery full of 20th century art, Muzeum Tatrzańskie where we found more of an emphasis on the ethnographic and natural aspects of the area and through a scavenger hunt students participated in around the city.
While at our hotel, we played sports in the large garden next to the building and had a grill on our first night there. Most importantly however, our integration activities focused on not only encouraging students to get to know each other, but to get to know themselves. We planned several activities that cover personal development topics that we don’t always have a chance to cover in our school curriculum.
There was also time for fun and games. After dinner we usually had a fun activity planned like scattergories, charades, guess the famous thinker, and others. We finished up the trip with a hike to beautiful Morskie Oko, the largest lake in the Tatra Mountain National Park.