Make Plans for Spring Student Travel: Incorporate Living History or Civil Rights into the Tour

As student travel groups begin to look forward to spring tours, it is a good idea to consider a few matters in preparation.

Washington D.C. Post 911 Security Procedures in Government Buildings
Travel Light on Student Tour of Major Sites
Washington D.C. is a major student travel destination. Some of the government sites there have been impacted by post 911 security regulations.  Student travel groups, teachers and chaperones can review some of the procedures at the major buildings by reading the article just compiled.  Pay attention to the details on ways that students can prepare to visit these buildings. The tips  are time saving, and help keep student travel groups on schedule.

Nobody likes to be stripped of their belongings when they get on an airplane or are about to enter a building or a concert. The best way to know about what students can or cannot  bring to certain sites  is to read up beforehand. For the article, I interviewed Ann Greenwald, a licensed D.C. tour guide who has been working with student travel groups for a number of years and has some excellent inside tips for tour groups headed to the Washington D.C. area.

Put Living History on the Itinerary
With ipods, cell phones, and portable dvd players plentiful among students, we understand that it’s hard to captivate students (even on a tour of an exciting new city). The answer to keeping a student group’s full attention while on tour is incorporating some living history into the itinerary.

When it comes to integrating living history programs into student travel, nobody does it like ETC. We work hard to customize tours to suit a student group’s needs. Living history programs are available throughout the United States at various historic sites. Many cities on the Eastern Seaboard are incredibly rich with living history choices for student travel tours.  Learn about living history destinations in Washington D.C., Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Boston Massachusetts, Williamsburg, Virginia and Atlanta, Georgia by reading the living history article on this blog.

Civil Rights Tour of Atlanta and other Destinations
As the country once again prepares for a presidential election, we find civil rights at the forefront of political discussions these days.  Student tour groups interested in a more diverse view of history may elect to take the Black Heritage Tour of Atlanta, where Martin Luther King’s career as a pastor, educator, and civil rights leader took off, and he was shaped into the political leader we remember him as today. Learn about black history by visiting Martin Luther King’s former residence in Atlanta, seeing the museum and library and visiting the church where he once preached. What better way to inspire student travel groups to consider multiple perspectives of history then to visit these actual historic places?

For the student travel coordinator who would like to visit some, though not all of the black heritage destinations, it is possible for ETC to create a custom tour with some of the highlights of the Black history tour of Atlanta.

Student travel coordinators may also elect to take part or all of the Black Heritage Tour of Washington D.C. and Baltimore or Alabama.

Historic places of the Civil Rights Movement: the Atlanta University District

    The four institutions that were most prominent in the civil rights movement include Morehouse College, which was also known at the time as the “black Harvard”, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, and West Hunter Street Baptist Church. This area is part of the National Park Service’s “We Shall Overcome” tour, historic places of the civil rights movement. Students visiting these sites gain a greater understanding of the people involved in the movement.  They also learn that the movement was organized in a campus setting by college students. Martin Luther King, Jr. graduated from Morehouse College and Morehouse students Lonnie King and Julian Bond organized marches, boycotts and sit-ins throughout the city. Spelman student Ruby Doris Smith helped lead freedom rides, sit-ins, jail-ins and vote registration drives. Civil Rights leaders W.E.B. Du Bois and Whitney Young, Jr. taught and chaired departments at Atlanta University. The Reverend Ralph Abernathy pastored West Hunter Street Baptist church when he was the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
There are options for student travel groups visiting Atlanta.  A student tour may primarily focus on Black History, with other types of historic sites included.  Or, a historic tour with a larger focus may include some points of interest for Black History.  Either option provides educational tours a diverse viewpoint of American history. Following is a breakdown of some of the highlights of the National Park Service “We Shall Overcome” tour.

Morehouse College:
In 1867, just two years after the Civil War ended, Augusta Institute was established in the basement of the Springfield Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga. Founded in 1787, Springfield Baptist church is still the oldest independent African American church in the United States. The schools primary purpose was to prepare black men for the ministry and teaching. In 1913 Augusta Institute became Morehouse College, which is located on a 66-acre campus in Atlanta and enjoys an international reputation for producing leaders who have influenced national and world history. On the campus is the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, the world’s most prominent religious memorial to alumnus Martin Luther King, Jr. The chapel seeks to develop and promote clergy, laity and youth awakening through reconciliation, non-violence, science, spirituality and the building of global “communities of hope”. A tour of the country’s leading historically black college can easily be added to a student travel tour.
Spelman College:
Founded as Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary in 1811 in the basement of Friendship Baptist Church, the institution became Spelman Seminary in 1884 and then Spelman College in 1924. The college sits on 32 acres just 3 miles from downtown Atlanta and consists of 25 buildings. It is a private, independent liberal arts college for women today, considered among the top historically black colleges in the nation. An educational tour of this campus requires prior registration and is suggested since approved dates fill up early.
Clark Atlanta University:
Atlanta University was founded in 1865 by the American Missionary Association and was supplying black teachers and librarians to the public schools of the south by 1879. In 1930 it began an affiliation with Morehouse and Spelman colleges in a university plan known as the Atlanta University System. The campus was moved to its present site and Clark College, Morris Brown College and the Interdenominational Theological Center joined the affiliation later. Clark College was founded in 1869 as Clark University by the Freedman’s Aid Society of the Methodist church.
West Hunter Street Baptist Church:
Founded as the Friendship Baptist church in 1881, West Hunter Street Baptist Church was moved to its current location in 1906 on West Hunter Street. In 1961 Ralph D. Abernathy became the pastor. Mr. Abernathy and Martin Luther King, Jr. founded the Southern Baptist Leadership Conference and worked together to lead successful bus boycotts and change through advocating non-violence. Upon Dr. King’s death, Abernathy succeeded him as president of the SBLC and continued their work.
The University Tour District of Atlanta provides the most “walking in the footsteps” experience available to student travel groups looking to be immersed in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. Students interested in pursuing careers as teachers, ministers, librarians, or lawyers may find this tour especially inspiring. For more information on creating an African American history tour, which can be customized to incorporate additional civil rights sites in the Atlanta, Georgia area, email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

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Student Tours of Washington D.C. Require Knowledge of Security Procedures

By Howard Clemens

Following is a question and answer session with Ann Greenwald, Tour Director, and Licensed Washington D.C. Guide.

As a student tour travel consultant for many years, it has become necessary to prepare groups for security procedures and protocols of certain U.S. government buildings in this post 9-11 era. In a brief interview with an affiliated Tour Director in Washington D.C., I have detailed the many requirements for security that are necessary to visit some of the more common sites within Washington D.C.

White House tour:
Q. What items can you bring with you on the White House tour?
A. You must bring a valid photo I.D. Students may bring a wallet if it fits in a pocket. Women cannot bring purses. Nothing else is permitted: no cameras, no breath mints, no chapstick, no bottled water, no gum – nothing. These items will be taken at the gate and students probably won’t get them back. They go into a trash bin.

Q. How does a student tour group get permission to attend a White House tour?
A. A list of student and adult travelers, along with their Social Security numbers, are submitted to a congressman or senator well in advance of the trip. All names are subject to a background check. Without permission to do a background check, an individual cannot get into the White House. Groups must line up in alphabetical order. For any additional security information concerning a student travel tour of the White House, please consult this site : http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/tours/

United States Capitol Tour:
Q. What personal items are prohibited inside the U.S. Capitol?
A. No oversized backpacks are allowed, though purse backpacks are permissible. All permissible bags are subject to a security search. Depending upon where you start the tour there may be up to three security checkpoints, and three checks on your purse. Other prohibited items include: water, nothing that can be construed as a weapon such as a metal file, no hairspray, no hand sanitizer. No liquids of any kind are permitted. No food is permitted.

Q. What personal items are allowed inside the U.S. Capitol?
A. Cameras are permitted but not inside the galleries (House and Senate chambers). Also permitted on the general tour but not in the galleries is any video recording devices, electronic devices and baby strollers.

Q. When is the Capitol tour open to the public?
A. The Capitol is open to the public for guided tours Monday through Saturday with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Ticket holders will be directed to the South Visitor Receiving Facility and proceed to the Capitol to begin their tour. Maximum tour size is 40 people. A student tour company can make arrangements through the U.S. Senator or Congressman to schedule a special tour for educational travel groups and avoid the public line (and wait). If student tour groups need additional information concerning visiting the U.S. Capitol please consult their official website: http://www.aoc.gov/cc/visit/

The Smithsonian:
Q. What security procedures should students and chaperones expect when visiting the Smithsonian as part of a tour?
A. At most museums, security personnel will conduct a thorough but speedy hand check of all bags, briefcases, purses, and containers. All visitors are subject to bag checks with special electronic devices. There are walk through security bag checkpoints at all Smithsonian Museums and students will go through a metal detector. For those unable to walk through the metal detector such as those in wheelchairs, security personnel will screen these visitors individually. No food or drink is allowed in any of the Smithsonian Museums.

Q. What items are allowed in the Smithsonian?
A. Backpacks and purses are allowed in the Smithsonian, and they are subject to search. For any additional security questions concerning a student tour of the Smithsonian, please consult the following site : http://www.smithsonian.org/visit/security_and_policies.htm.

General Tips to Student travelers coming to Washington D.C.
Q. Are there any suggestions you would make to students traveling to Washington D.C. for tours of the various sites?
A. The lighter students travel, the quicker they get through security. Leave ipods or other metal devices in rooms or on the bus. The lighter students go the more comfortable they will be. My advice is if it doesn’t fit in your pocket or wallet or purse, leave it. This will mean the student will not have to get into a bag check line. As a rule, don’t bring food or drink anywhere. In most cases the student can bring water with them (but, not the Capital or White House).

In a typical day of touring with a group, Ann says her groups will visit five to eight sites and go through security an average of three to ten times per day depending upon the site visited.

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How to Incorporate Living History on Student Travel Tour

   Living history is a great tool for learning on a student travel tour of many major destinations.  There are living history programs available in several of the major markets where Educational Travel Consultants conducts student travel tours, including: Washington D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Williamsburg, and Gettysburg. Living history programs are not limited to major urban areas or destinations though – these unique programs thrive everywhere, in different forms.

Living history is usually comprised of several different elements. Interpreters re-enact history through costuming, creation of an authentic historical setting, stories and narratives that originate from that era, and props, including gardening, farming or animals. All of this helps to create an imaginary historical landscape.  Student travel groups love living history programs because it situates them in that moment in time when the historical event occurred.

For the teacher or school administrator considering adding living history to a tour, it is a great way to give the student an active learning experience. It is easy to include a living history destination with some advanced planning and a budget to visit the site.  Following are some of my recommendations for some of the best living history programs in the East.  This list is by no means definitive. Although I am certain there are some worthwhile sites I have left out, this will provide a basic overview of living history available in some of the major destinations I am most familiar with at this time.

Mount Vernon – Near Washington D.C.
The estate of George Washington is impressive in many respects. The living history programs at Mount Vernon are a wonderful way for students to really enter the time period.  Washington, a superior horseman, was known for breaking his own horses and introducing the donkey into American farming, as well as breeding them at Mount Vernon. There’s an authentic wash house, coach house, smokehouse, storehouse, greenhouse, slaves quarters and more. The plantation, which used to span 8,000 acres and encompass five farms, was vast. A character interpreter of Martha Washington is a part time resident of Mount Vernon, when she’s not traveling the United States and educating people about18th Century lifestyle.

Tullie Smith Farm – Atlanta History Center

Student travel groups will want to visit an authentic yeoman’s farm just Northwest of Atlanta, Georgia, if they are traveling to that area. The Tullie Smith Farm was owned by a farmer named Robert Smith from Rutherford County, North Carolina. Smith migrated to Georgia, and began a small farm.  He managed nearly 800 acres of land with 11 slaves. Smith raised cattle and hogs and used the land for agricultural purposes.  Student travel groups will learn that not all southern plantation homes were large scale. This home is a rare example of a “plantation plain” style of home. Costumed interpreters lead student tour groups through the Tullie Smith farm and capture the essence of the time period, circa 1840, with narratives that help recreate the era.

Boston, Mass.
Old Sturbridge Village

Recreating New England rural living from 1790-1840, Old Sturbridge Village is the largest living history museum in the Northeast. The buildings, moved from towns across New England, include a bank, a country store, a law office, sawmill, gristmill, meetinghouses and more.  Students tour the buildings while costumed living history interpreters tell the story of the period, and help students examine the rural life of Early American Settlers more closely. This 200-acre museum is a short drive from Boston, Massachusetts. There is a great deal for student travel groups to see in Old Sturbridge Village so plan on spending at least a half-day and possibly a full day exploring.

Plymouth Plantation, Plymouth Massachusetts
Student travel groups visiting Plymouth Plantation will find a wealth of living history from different perspectives. Students can meet the Wampanoag tribe, who continuously inhabited the land for over a thousand years.   Student travelers can learn about the Mayflower’s journey across the ocean, and what it was like to live in a 17th century colonial settlement. Other living history elements to the tour are a craft center, where students will meet potters, tailors, basket makers and furniture makers.  At the Nye barn, students will have the chance to see rare, older breeds of livestock, and watch 17th Century farmers perform their daily tasks.

Williamsburg Virginia
When John D. Rockefeller ‘bought the town of Williamsburg’ in the 1920s he did so to preserve a unique period in American history and with an eye towards restoring it to its former opulence. The peak of Williamsburg’s popularity was during the 1800s, when Williamsburg served as the capital of the colony of Virginia. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation provides costumed character interpreters in many of the major historic buildings such as the capital, the jail, and the historic homes and pubs.  Giving a student tour group the chance to visit one of the largest living history museums in the world is quite a thrill. Student groups on tour may walk anywhere in or near downtown Williamsburg and immediately notice that many people on the street are in costume, and have a story to tell.  The interpreters also act as guides of some historic sites, or are available to answer questions about their lifestyle during the 18th Century as students visit various historic sites.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Meet Abe Lincoln or Robert E. Lee at Dobbin House Tavern
Once built and owned by Alexander Dobbin in 1776, Dobbin House Tavern is located in an historic home which was also a colonial style restaurant. Restored according to the period, Dobbin House Tavern creates the right ambiance along with excellent food. Good company awaits the student tour group dining at Dobbin House Tavern while they are in Gettysburg. Costumed interpreters Abe Lincoln or Robert E. Lee drop in to chat with student travelers after their meal, and reminisce with stories from their historical time periods. A visit to Dobbin House Tavern is a fun way for student tour groups to learn what life was like in during colonial and revolutionary times.
Living history programs stimulate the mind and the imagination of students learning about different periods in American history. To learn about how to add living history to a student travel tour email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.  Or visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

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