Freshmen at Gobles High School and all over the country are required to study ancient Greece and to read Homer’s Odyssey, a 3,000-year-old text that forms the basis of a classic education.
Over spring break students in the Gobles History Club took classic education to a whole new level, traveling the same lands and waterways around Greece and Turkey that form both the backdrop of The Odyssey, and the birthplace of modern Western civilization.
After flying to Athens, seventeen Gobles students traveled to historic sites by train and tour bus, and also spent four days sailing the Mediterranean Sea to historic sites like Crete, Rhodes, and Kusadasi on the Western coast of Turkey.
For many of the Gobles students, the trip provided some important first-time, first-hand experiences.
"For me it was my first time on a plane," said senior History Club member Wyatt Peterson. "I found it exhilarating. It was my first time on a cruise ship, too. It was a wonder to see the ruins. As soon as I stepped foot on the site of the Parthenon, my mind went crazy imagining what Athens would have been like in its glory days. These were magnificent structures, and I realized I was standing on the birthplace of democracy."
Every other year History Club director Jim Wiseley leads students on a visit to the actual historic places around the world that are studied in his Gobles classroom. He does it because of the powerful learning that happens when students see these places for themselves.
"Their eyes are opened, that's for sure," Wiseley said. "They learn the realities of different parts of the world, they become informed of different cultures. They also realize they have it pretty good here, in the United States, and in our little town of Gobles."
Senior Brian Hayward is preparing to leave the little town of Gobles as he approaches graduation and becomes a first-year student at the University of Michigan. He knows he'll take valuable lessons from this trip with him to college.
"Walking through the marketplace in Turkey, vendors would literally grab you by the arm and force their items in your hands," Hayward said. "It was a completely new experience for me, but for the vendors it's a normal way of life. I understand in college that I can’t expect that I will have the same background as everyone else. When I meet people from different cultures, having the background of traveling overseas will prepare me to interact with people from different places and cultures more successfully.”
These are the experiences Wiseley wants his students to have in the Gobles History Club. "We learned that almost 3,000 years ago the Greeks invented concepts in math, engineering, and architecture we still use to this day. They came up with concepts like The Olympic Games to bring people together. The impact of Greek history and culture on our own culture and history is enormous."
And the impact on seventeen Gobles students is enormous, too, travelers who enjoyed a modern-day look at ancient wonders of history in the places that history actually took place. The odyssey of their educational journeys became real in ways they only imagined when they studied ancient Greece as Gobles freshmen.