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Student Travel to New York City Includes a Look at a Diverse Immigrant History at Tenement Museum

The Tenement Museum is a great place to visit to understand 19th Century immigrant lifesytles.
The Tenement Museum is a great place to visit to understand 19th Century immigrant lifesytles.

by Howard Clemens

Located near Chinatown in Lower Manhattan at 103 Orchard Street, the Tenement Museum is one of the most important museums chronicling the extensive history of American immigration in the past two centuries. There are restored apartments with detailed histories of the people who left their homes and families to live and work in this new and hopeful and often unpleasant new country. There are also many walking tours and themed exhibitions, making this the most in-depth museum of its kind.

A Time Capsule in Lower Manhattan?
While many Americans reluctantly recognize a new wave of anti-immigrant fervor, it is the perfect time to educate students about the historical trials of the millions who made their way to the United States for a better life. One of the best places for a closer examination of this history is New York’s Tenement Museum, founded by historian and social activist Ruth Abram. It was almost an accident that Abram and her cofounder Anita Jacobsen found their perfect location for the museum when inspecting the storefront property on Orchard Street. Cracking a door to a backroom was all it took for them to discover that the entire building was former tenement housing sealed from the public for more than half a century, the perfect time capsule.

Since then the site has become a national trust for historic preservation. Extensive and meticulous research has revealed details about the many mid-19th Century immigrant lives at the Orchard Street address. Over the past twenty years museum staff have restored half a dozen apartments, most recently the home of Irish immigrants, The Moores, who lived in the building in 1869. Students and teachers alike will learn while enjoying the restored tenement building for a complete time travel experience.

Museum Workshops Train Teachers in Diversity Learning
Educators can attend workshops at the museum that are specifically designed for them on building classroom curriculum about the historic aspects of early immigrants. The workshops include details on basic survival skills of the early immigrants. This included learning to buy and sell goods in the neighborhood. Outdoor markets, corner stores, bakeries, meats and dry goods stores shaped the overarching definition of what it means to live in an American city in an immigrant neighborhood.

Teachers will participate in discussions on individual immigrant histories and how families preserved their traditions to enrich the ever-changing cultural history of the United States. Sadly, part of this story involves a hard look at discrimination. The details of discriminatory hiring, housing and social practices against early immigrants can pave the way for a more complete and empathetic understanding of the difficulties in their lives. Large groups of people from various countries and backgrounds came to the United States for different reasons. One of the major reasons was to improve their situations by making better livelihoods – for themselves and their children. The U.S. offered this by being the ‘land of opportunity.’

Educators Learn About Immigrant Life in 19th Century NYC
A key component to the workshops looks at industry and how immigrants were used as cheap labor for factories. The kinds of work and the on-the-job dangers experienced are an important part of this discussion. Ultimately, immigrant communities would create unionization of workers to combat abusive practices of factory owners. The struggles of the new Americans helped shape the idea of fighting for control over the well-being and rights of every working person. These early immigrant workers made marks upon our nation that continue to be a point of contention for industry, workers and leading politicians.

Tenement Building and Walking Tours for Student Tour Groups
Many different experts have come together to uncover the history of the Orchard Street apartments. Wallpaper conservators, paint specialists and urban archeologists have combed the building to piece together stories that have implications in understanding family life and legislation of landlords.

The building tours have various themes. The “Shop Life” tour examines the many family owned businesses that grew out of different immigrant communities from butchers to undergarment discount stores. The “Sweatshop Workers” tour takes a look at the garment industry and the “Irish Outsiders” tour focuses on the Moores, a family faced with prejudice as they prepare for the historic St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Walking tours also have various themes, like “Tasting the Tenement,” a tour of the food in the surrounding neighborhood, from bagel shops to falafel cafes which remain an important part of the history of immigrants. There is also the “Tenements Talks” which are an ongoing series of discussions by writers and artists about their lives connecting to earlier immigrants. Upcoming talks by Laurie Anderson and others can be found on the museum website in the events listings.
Extending the Student Learning Experience
The museum offers activities on learning with objects and primary sources as well as lessons in oral history. There are also English as a Second Language (ESL) programs available. The Tenement Museum is situated in the heart of Lower Manhattan. It is a very quick walk to Chinatown, and New York City offers one of the busiest and most delicious Chinatown experiences in the nation. The Tenement Museum is a complete experience for students and teachers alike, and the surrounding neighborhood helps enrich the time spent there.

For more information on scheduling a student trip to New York City with the Tenement Museum on the itinerary, Request a Quote.

Blended Learning: Art Students View Guggenheim & MOMA Collections Online and Tour NYC

By Howard Clemens

The virtual tour of a historical site, art museum or even a college or university has become the standard for many websites’ online visitors. As an educational tour consultant for many years, I do not recommend that students gain their whole experience from the online tour of an art museum. There is no replacement for seeing art in person. I always encourage a visit to at least one major museum when student groups travel to a city like Washington D.C. or New York City.

Nowadays, teachers can more easily prepare students for a student trip to New York City by virtually taking their classroom to the destination and specific sites in that place, such as museums. This is the beginning of a blended learning experience. Visiting the actual destination and seeing current exhibitions and authentic paintings or sculptures complements the online viewing experience. A visit to New York City allows students to wander inside the museum, the district and the community – learning to see art as part of the fabric of life.

I want to focus on two specific international art museums in New York City – The Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). Part of these museums’ permanent collections are available for viewing online – with more being digitized and added.

The permanent collection of many museums is not available for viewing at all times. Often major works of art are in storage. Some are in the restoration process, while some are only displayed for special shows or regular exhibits and rotated back into storage. The work of famous artists also goes on tour and is leant to other museums. Traveling art brings notoriety and resources to a museum.

All of this may frustrate the art student and teacher. Exposure to the works of the masters helps students acquire new techniques and gain inspiration from fellow artists ideas about color, form and theme.

Teachers can more easily develop lesson plans around the work of specific artists in these digital collections. Or, perhaps teachers will focus on studying periods of art, and the type of work and artists who defined that era.

Let’s step through a sample blended learning exercise, utilizing digital works in these two collections to understand Modern Art of the first part of the 20th Century.

First, go to the page on the MOMA website where you can search for artists:
http://www.moma.org/collection/works?classifications=

Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
MOMA is named after the Modern Art period and has an outstanding collection, with 200,000 works of modern and contemporary art in the collection and 61,000 works available online. A look into Pablo Picasso’s work will show students that Picasso was an adept painter who also made lithographs. Students can even view the drawings that later became paintings – gaining insight into Picasso’s artistic process.

Guggenheim Museum

Now, let’s visit the Guggenheim’s collection, and see more work by this master painter who took Paris by storm. Visit: http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/collections/collection-online and search for ‘Picasso.’ Guggenheim’s collection contains many selected and famous paintings by Picasso, beginning in the early part of his career in 1900 and ending in 1965. Art students can observe and analyze the evolution of an artist, beginning with an interest in painting the figure and people, and evolving into a fascination for abstraction. By viewing Picasso’s work, students will understand why he is often referred to as the progenitor of Cubism.

As students are tasked with viewing Picasso on their own, they will learn more from Moma.org and the Guggenheim’s website about the subject matter of individual pieces. Picasso’s contemporaries, such as Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec are also mentioned in painting descriptions and Picasso’s biography.

Complementing these studies in the classroom, a visit to MOMA or the Guggenheim Museum to see some of the actual works of Picasso or his contemporaries is an excellent way to blend the classroom experience with real world encounters. Students can wander around the interior of the museums, viewing real works and learning more about the Manhattan communities where MOMA and the Guggenheim are located.

The number of masterpieces in museum collections in New York City is staggering. To have these works available for viewing online is a phenomenal leap. This can be said for other large urban museums housing collections as well. The number of digital masterpieces available will continue to grow and expand.

Use technology and student tours as a means of inspiring students to gain insights through careful study of the masters who have gone before them.

For more information about scheduling a student tour of New York City, request a quote.

Booking Large Student Groups on Airlines

Sometimes it is not always crystal clear to student travel organizers such as teachers, school board members, and parents — what function or role an excellent student travel company can fulfill when taking a group to a destination. There are many roles that student travel consultants play in planning and executing a trip. In this blog, I will focus on one important aspect of student travel planning that takes up a great deal of time and even requires a financial commitment early on. Booking large student groups on major airlines to high traffic destinations is not an easy assignment. It takes an experienced student travel consultant to pre-plan this aspect of a trip.

The Student Travel Deposit for Airlines
There are several key requirements when making airline reservations for student travel. The most important is that a deposit of $50 per passenger must be paid in advance. If as many as 50 students attend, this deposit could be $2,500. The required deposit is held by the airline company until 30 days after the trip is completed.

How Does Educational Travel Consultants Assist Student Travel Partners?
Here is the part where a qualified educational travel consultant’s services are needed. Instead of billing the student travel group for this fee and reimbursing the group one month after the tour is complete, Educational Travel Consultants covers this deposit. Why? ETC does not see it as necessary to task students, parents and teachers to raise additional funds that will be repaid at a later date.

ETC’s decision to cover student deposits does tie up valuable company resources during the height of the busy student travel season. But ETC sees this as a trade off. We see this as just one more way we can serve student travel groups better, by stepping in and taking responsibility for the deposit to provide adequate advance reservations for groups booking airline passage. We realize it is a risk for airlines to book large groups, since numbers sometimes go up and down. Yet this deposit is not applied to other types of air travel. It still remains a mystery to me as to why it is strictly required for large student groups.

Serving Students, Teachers and Chaperones Better: Less Fundraising Needed

The most important thing is that our policy to cover the airline deposit serves the school, teachers, and students by allowing them more flexibility with their fund raising efforts. If student groups had to raise an additional $2,500 to fund a trip to Washington D.C. it would put increased stress on them during the busy school year. Educational trips are designed to enhance learning, not detract from it. By giving student groups and those who organize them a break, we help students and teachers who are busy during the school year to free up time for the important things like preparation, study, performance, and intramural sports. Students and teachers who travel with us have enough to do!

Leave the Student Travel Details to the Experts
At Educational Travel Consultants, it is our job to make the student travel experience easier, and more enjoyable. That’s why we encourage student groups to leave the details to us. Our student travel consultants work diligently behind the scenes to ensure that deposits and reservations are made in a timely manner, and that the best possible price for air travel is obtained. As many know, air travel, like any kind of travel, is most likely going to continue to increase in cost. There is not much that ETC or other student travel companies can do about this. Yet, we try our best to keep costs as low as possible so student groups can continue to travel to major destinations like New York City, Washington D.C., and Orlando.

Always work with a qualified student travel expert, such as Educational Travel Consultants, when you want to avoid headaches and unexpected costs. In order for a student trip to go smoothly advance planning and follow-up is necessary. Make sure you have a student travel expert on your side. Request more information by emailing info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or request a quote for your upcoming student travel trip by filling out a brief online inquiry form.