In recognition of Throwback Thursday and the start of the AYP bus trip to DC/NYC on Saturday (be sure to follow along with us on Instagram!), we wanted to share all the great memories of last year!
And the following article appeared in our newsletter after the trip last year:
Google Maps says the bus ride from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Washington, D.C., takes over 17 hours (and 18 on the way back from New York City). But the long haul was definitely worth it for the group of 80 AYP students, host siblings, and chaperones who took part in this epic annual trip organized by NOD Coordinator Diane Japke.
Departing on November 11 from Minnesota, the first stops on the trip were to pick up students along the way. The bus drove through the night, and the next morning the group arrived at the National Mall in D.C.
Touring America's capital over the course of three days, the group visited some of the U.S.'s most recognizable monuments and buildings, including the Smithsonian Museums, the Lincoln, Jefferson, and Roosevelt Memorials, the Washington Monument, Library of Congress, Supreme Court, Arlington Cemetery, Kennedy Center, Ford's Theater, the WWII, Korean, and Vietnam War Memorials, and the U.S. Capitol building.
"One of my favorite things was visiting so many new, incredible places, and I learned a lot about U.S. history," said Vitoria, a student from Brazil.
Then it was off to the Big Apple! Students are always eager to visit New York City, and America's largest city never disappoints. After meeting up with tour guides, students got to take in Grand Central Station, Fifth Avenue for shopping, the Rockefeller Center, explored Central Park, and capped the day with a trip up the Empire State Building to see the endless lights of the city at night.
The fun didn't stop on day two in NYC, which included a ride on the Staten Island Ferry for a nice view of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11 Memorial, Times Square, and all capped off with a Broadway show "Once on This Island". The show was unique, with seats circled around a stage covered in sand. Some in the group had front row seats, with one student gushing about the show exclaiming, "I even got sand in my shoe!" The students spent the last morning in NYC exploring, shopping, and eating their way through Chinatown. Then it was a five-hour drive to Johnson City, or roughly halfway between NYC and Niagara Falls, and the students got a chance to relax a bit after a whirlwind week.
A visit to Niagara Falls capped off the trip, and after lunch, the bus turned west to drive back through the night. Everyone made it home safe (and very tired!) on November 19.
"My favorite part of the trip was meeting new friends, new best friends, and maybe family," said Fadlan, a student from Indonesia. "It was a very memorable experience for me, and I feel so lucky ... during the trip we had so much fun!"
This trip means a lot to our AYP students for a variety of reasons, but especially since they don't get to choose where they end up spending their year here in the U.S. It's also important because it allows them to interact with other international students.
"Having the opportunity to spend time with other exchange students, I'll remember for life the moments we shared and the friends I made," Vitoria said.
NOD Marketing Project Specialist Tate Vaughan, who was a chaperone on the trip, said it was rewarding watching the students interact.
"They all bonded right away. Not just students from the same country, but everyone. It was really cool to witness," Tate said. "They were so excited to visit these American cities and have this experience like none other. I think it was a great way for students to learn about the U.S. in a fun and engaging way that they don't get in a classroom."
New places. New friends. New lifelong memories. And another successful AYP trip is in the books!