Francis, four BHS students plan cultural excursion to Ireland, Scotland

It is well known that when people become accustomed to a certain way of living, their minds tend to grow ignorant of life’s many possibilities. This can easily be cured through traveling, which allows the mind to expand and literally see the world in a brand new way.

That is exactly what Mrs. Connie Francis hopes to share with her students this summer by providing a chance of a lifetime: an 18-day trip through Ireland and Scotland.

“Traveling is all about seeing how other people live and letting that experience change our perspectives, and that’s exactly what I hope the kids will take away from this,” Mrs. Francis said.

Ever since 2006, Mrs. Francis has been organizing trips to different countries for BHS seniors. When Mrs. Francis began teaching AP Literature to juniors instead of seniors, she had trouble finding enough students to participate.

So, unlike past years, she opened the floor to both senior and junior students, allowing three current Bearden seniors and one junior to attend.

“My ancestors came from Ireland and Scotland, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to see the land they came from,” senior Elena Martin said.

In a group of eight, including her husband and nephew, Mrs. Francis plans to begin the trip in Galway, Ireland and then stop in Dublin, where she has organized a ghost tour.

The group will then travel to Belfast where they will take a tour of some of the locations where the popular HBO fantasy series, Game of Thrones, is filmed.

“I have kind of turned into a Game of Thrones junkie, and I’ve already been to the place where they shoot King’s Landing, so now I can see where they film Winterfell scenes,” Mrs. Francis said. “Basically, I am viewing the trip as the next part of my Game of Thrones journey.”

After Belfast, the group will travel via ferry to Glasgow, Scotland and explore Macbeth’s castle. They will then travel to Edinburgh, where the trip will come to an end.

“When we are in Scotland, we are going to visit the Isle of Skye, a small island off the coast,” senior Victoria Bloch said. “I am so excited because it looks like something out of a fairy tale.”

In the past, Mrs. Francis has organized trips with tour groups, but did not like the “long, bumpy rides” or “rushed experiences” the method would provide. Instead, she decided to plan the trip herself to allow for a more personalized and cheaper excursion, describing her traveling style as more of a “backpack trip.”

During the visit, Mrs. Francis hopes to teach students the ins and outs of travel, such as how to navigate public transport and find clean, safe places to stay.  She also hopes staying off a tour bus will let the group become better immersed in the Irish and Scottish cultures.

“I love to see kids who have never been anywhere before have something simple like riding the train end up being their favorite thing,” Mrs. Francis said. “You would think their favorite thing would be something big like the Eiffel Tower, but often, their favorite part is something simple just because it’s so culturally different.”

When in the past, trips have consisted of up to 30 students, Mrs. Francis feels the small numbers will provide for a more intimate experience while also making travel easier.

Mrs. Francis hopes this trip, occurring from July 18 through Aug. 2, will inspire wanderlust within her students and encourage them to travel more with her in the future.

“I think that anytime kids travel it opens up their world and you get to see people’s similarities and differences, not necessarily from an American standpoint but from all around,” Mrs. Francis said. “I am sure everyone will learn from this trip how addicting travel can truly be.”