Going up north to visit a sisterNear the end of the school year, Morgan Park students were treated with a trip to Thunder Bay, one of Duluth’s sister cities.
By: Catherine Vaught, Duluth Budgeteer News
Near the end of the school year, Morgan Park students were treated with a trip to Thunder Bay, one of Duluth’s sister cities.
“This trip is a reward for students after a long school year,” Bruce Holm, a geography teacher at Morgan Park, said to the Budgeteer. “And this travel opens students to new thoughts, ideas, and culture. For many, it’s their first trip out of the country, or even out of Minnesota.”
This trip has been coordinated by Holm for the past 16 years. This is the first year it was connected with Sister Cities Inter-
“The experience opens the minds of students,” Liz Taylor, president of Sister Cities International of Duluth, told the Budgeteer. “[It’s] an international cultural experience close to home at an affordable price.”
Mayor Don Ness sent the students off on Wednesday, May 30, and Thunder Bay’s Mayor Keith Hobbs greeted them once they arrived in the sister city.
“We were able to get a tour of the council chambers from the city counselor, and students got the chance to learn about their form of government,” Holm said.
“I liked the city hall tour because we were able to see where the city officials discussed problems and had their meetings, and we got to sit in their chairs,” Julia Ketola, a student from the trip, told the Budgeteer. “The mayor even gave us each a pin.”
Though the trip was a short three-day visit, students were able to experience many of the local landmarks.
“We keep the students active – walking and exercising. They don’t even realize it because they’re having such a great time,” Holm said.
“One place we went to was a garden park where we were able to see the Sleeping Giant off in the distance,” said Ketola. The Sleeping Giant is known to some as Thunder Bay’s 50-million-ton mascot. When viewed from the city, the peninsula resembles a reclining giant.
Students also explored the historic Old Fort William – the world’s largest fur trading post – as well as the Canadian Games Complex, super movie complex, the Intercity Mall, and the Lakehead University Campus.
“The Old Fort William tour was my favorite,” Jon Harstad, another student from the trip, told the Budgeteer. “The best part was going to the bakery at the fort; we got to see how they made breads long ago.”
“My favorite part of the Old Fort William tour was seeing the doctor’s house, which was also used as the doctor’s office in the 1800s,” Ketola said. “It was cool seeing the old medicines and gadgets.”
Another highlight of the trip for students was spending time at Lakehead University. “The students got to experience college life for the first time. They got to look at the courses offered, get a tour of the campus, sleep in the dorm rooms, and eat the cafeteria food,” Holm said. “For many, it was a taste of college freedom.”
“The dorms were small, but nice, and they gave us our own little areas. We got to hang out in the lounge areas, but my favorite part was seeing the tech offices,” Ketola said. “There were advanced computers, big rows of chairs, and microphones for when you wanted to speak with the professor.”
Besides the trip being about touring local attractions, students end up learning a lot about being away from home and being responsible for themselves.
“I learned about how the citizens of Thunder Bay live life, like how their houses are built, what their restaurants are like, and their differences money-wise,” Harstad said.
“One thing I learned was that the climate is mostly the same as Minnesota – cold,” Ketola said.
“Students end up learning life lessons about getting along with friends, learning to deal with different money and different values, and understanding the ways of a different culture, just four hours away.” Holm said. “I have yet to hear from a student who hasn’t had a good time.”
Though our neighboring country Canada isn’t far away, students still experienced the process of crossing the border. “It was a very realistic experience, brought on by the tragedy of 9/11. Students were required to show certification or a passport, as well as a signed permission slip from their parents in order to cross into Canada,” Holm said.
But all the hassle of crossing the border was well worth it in the end.
“I think this trip is important for all students to experience,” Harstad said. “It’s a great experience leaving the country and understanding that places are different beyond your home state.”
Added Ketola, “Traveling lets you see more, learn about a different country’s history and geography, and begin to learn just how big the world really is.”