Delight in Learning
Louis Nicol Reflects on the Boston Exchange Trip
This time last month, on Friday 13th October, myself and eight other 4th year students left Glasgow and travelled to Boston via London. We had a layover in Heathrow which allowed time for a relaxing meal at Wagamama’s followed by a rush to our connecting flight.
We arrived at 9.30 pm local time in Boston, and despite our bodies feeling it was 2.30 am, we were excited to meet our host families. We were warmly greeted by our hosts and, with a mixture of nerves and excitement, said farewell to Mr Giroux and Mrs Craig to spend a weekend with our host families.
Despite thinking I would have difficulty adjusting to being 5 hours behind, I quickly got settled. I found myself quickly relaxing into my host family’s house and their lifestyle. The weather was incredible and we experienced amazing moments over that first weekend with our families; from paint balling to picking pumpkins for Halloween, to going to a local haunted house and even getting to Gillette Field for the MLS Revolution match. Going out for meals was also an experience and I particularly loved the variety of foods on offer.
Despite an amazing weekend, I was thrilled to get to Boston College High School on Monday morning to see the rest of our group. School starts much earlier there, at 8.20am, and so I had to quickly get used to early commutes. The school looked so impressive and the sports grounds were amazing. There was a buzz around the school on Monday morning as Tom Rinaldi, a famous American Sports journalist and a favourite of Mr Giroux’s, was speaking about a book he had written entitled ‘The Red Bandanna’. In support, we, like all other students, wore a red bandanna. Rinaldi himself was amazing. He spoke of a hero of 9-11 who saved many lives and in so doing, sacrificed his own. It was a truly moving and inspiring experience. As if the week couldn’t get any better, we had the opportunity to take in some amazing sites around Boston. This included the Freedom trail, Boston Red Sox’ Fenway Park, Harvard University and the Boston’s special amphibious Duck tour.
Back at school, we immersed ourselves into the culture of the school. We had special lessons about the History of Boston as well as an English and a philosophy lesson. We were also able to shadow our host brothers and attend some of their classes. It was great to see how our they were taught and what their classes looked like. One thing that really stood out was the significance of sports in the daily life of students at BC High: from lacrosse, American football, soccer and basketball to baseball. Students finish at 2.30pm and most remain in school to attend after school groups, clubs and classes.
Yet what really affected me was the feeling that while so much felt different, I was struck by how it felt so similar to St Aloysius’ and our Jesuit faith and tradition. All of a sudden, it made sense. The exchange was entitled ‘Shared Values’ and this was exactly what it was. From our shared eagle, to AMDG emblazoned across the school, to placards saying ‘Men for others’, to paintings of St Ignatius hung on walls, it really felt ‘home from home’. In fact, by the time we went on our ‘soul food retreat’ and chatted about our lives and reflected on experiences, we all felt at ease in our new environment. It felt like one very special Jesuit community we belonged to.
The week culminated in a closing reception where all families came together to celebrate Mass with us and share a meal afterwards. The night ended on such a high as we all attended our first varsity American football game between the Boston College Eagles and Xavarian. The atmosphere was electric and we just loved being part of this community. We didn’t want it to end.
So what did we learn? Speaking for myself, I just loved the experiences I had throughout the week. Although I enjoyed all the sightseeing activities, what was truly special was the downtime with our host families where we chatted, went for walks and simply got to know each other. We made friends for life. Truly special.
This exchange has widened my horizons and made me feel that I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it. Hopefully those of you in S3 will consider this when it is advertised to you shortly. It was an amazing experience; one that I will never forget.