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May 1, 2014

CCS students enjoy European spring break

By Katharine Morgan CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Cooperstown Crier

---- — One of her goals as a history teacher is to give her students a broader view of the world, Jennifer Pindar said. 

“I want students to realize the importance of history and to learn about different countries and cultures. I want students to have a bigger picture of the world and our place with in it,” said Pindar, who teaches global and European history at Cooperstown Central School.

Pindar was able to share her vision with 61 students over spring break. The CCS group spent a week in Europe, visiting Munich and Dachau, Germany and Salzburg and Vienna, Austria. 

The trip was organized through the group WorldStrides. 

“This trip brought history alive and the students now have a better understand of Germany’s and Austria’s role in history,” Pindar said. “We had 72 people on this trip, 61 students and 11 adults. Everyone had a wonderful time.

“Munich was a fun city and we toured the entire city,” she continued. “We also made a stop at the BMW museum and the Olympic Park. 

In Dachau, the group visited a concentration camp. 

“This was a very powerful experience for everyone,” Pindar said. “Going through a concentration camp really made it real for students as what was actually happening at that time in history. There was one section were we walked through (a) building where the poisonous showers were and the next room had the crematories, the ovens. It was very eerie to be there. Everyone experienced all level of emotions and many of us were speechless.” 

In Austria, the group saw the Alps, Mozart’s home and a medieval fortress. 

“We had a beautiful view of the city and of the Alps,” Pindar said. “We toured the city of Salzburg as well. We had a tour through Mozart’s home and also went into the Dom Salzburg, which is a cathedral. After Salzburg, we stopped at the Melk Abbey, which was incredible and then we arrived in Vienna. We went through the palaces of the Hapsburgs and toured the city. We also made a stop to watch the Lipizzaner horses. Vienna is (a) beautiful old historic European city where the Hapsburgs live.”

Pindar’s students said that the trip had achieved her goal.  

Pindar noted that the students were struck by the idea that the whole town of Cooperstown would have been crammed into one barrack at Dachau.

“It was eerie, the camp was fairly close to the town, so there’s no way people didn’t know what was happening,” noted Colin Wilcox, a tenth grader at CCS. “We heard on audio that if beds were not made properly, death was the consequence.”

Mostly the students were eager to travel overseas. With the exception of Jacob Russell, a junior, who has traveled extensively, most of the students were visiting Europe for the first time.

“My family was from Germany, and I’m a big foodie,” said Wilcox. “It was fun to just go to cafes and maybe get lost and then find our way back.”

Russell mentioned he was interested in the historical aspects of the trip.

“The architecture is so much better,” he said. “I like the idea that we could use a cathedral or castle as a landmark and find our way back.”

“It was a lot cleaner than American cities,” said Jennifer Knapp, a senior. 

She expressed her emotional response to Dachau, explaining that her grandmother was Jewish.

Practicing German wasn’t always easy, however.

“They wanted to impress me with their English rather than hear me speak German,” said Wilcox.

All the students agreed it was nice to have free time, where they could basically find a cafe and relax, order the specialties of the countries they were in and meet back with a group

Gozigian said, “I found the best dessert ever. It was called a nutella wonder. A waffle cone filled with nutella, whipped cream, and hazelnutsm.”

Germany is not the place to go if you are vegetarian, Russell noted. The group went to a traditional beer garden and enjoyed bratwurst, sauerkraut and gigantic pretzels.

The students mentioned that in spite of the numerous Starbucks, they very much enjoyed experiencing a different culture. They laughed about the fact that McDonalds offered a whopper on a baguette.

The end result is 61 teenagers experienced a different culture, conducted themselves with dignity and broadened their horizons immeasurably, Pindar said.