Why go sailing with students? When does a group of individuals become a unit? Why not go to a city or a beach and stay in a hotel? Why a boat?
I’ve been on several class trips and have organized a few, but I keep thinking of a scene in Nick Hornby’s ‘About a Boy’, when the parents pick up their kids from the police station. They leave home as individuals and end up as a group, as friends. They have a vehicle, a common goal and a task. Somehow that unites them. They enter the car, go to a petrol station and reenter the car as a group.
The same miracle happens with class trips. However, often not everyone participates and trips are more and more seen as holidays, not as a chance to experience time together. Team spirit, feeling as a group, is vital for students. It’s an essential experience.
Sailing a boat requires collaboration. If you don’t pull that rope, you stay in the harbour. If you don’t cut these onions, everybody’s meal won’t taste as nice. I feel that we all come back as different people, who belong together because they’ve shared a sunrise, smelly socks, a chilli; bad pasta (yep; buy Italian one), a spider in a sink … . Sailing did just that for my students, my colleague and me. We entered a bus, were left alone on the harbour and got on a boat. We set sails, cooked, slept, ate, quarreled, sang. Leaving the boat and entering the bus, everything felt different. Somehow, along the way, we ended up as a crew, a group, friends.
I know it’s nothing new, and people have experienced it for thousands of years; but that could be said of every love story, too. Anyway, for me it’s been a special experience which I’d like to share.
Plus, being an Foreign Language teacher, I’d like to give my students the opportunity to tell their stories, to write about their experiences, and thus, encouraging others to sail together, too.
George (48, teacher)