This morning we had a peaceful private tour of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels; while there we found an image of St Philippine Duchesne on one of the large tapestries. We asked the boys to take photos of art or architectural features (with no people in the pictures) to capture memories for their later journal prompts.
We next went to the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), where we broke into small groups to investigate different artifacts connected to the experience of Japanese Americans who were relocated to incarceration camps during World War II. The boys then presented their investigations to each other in ways that were cogent, interesting, and full of insight. One of the journal writing prompts for this portion of the trip asks each student to grapple with a complicated question: “What happened to the Japanese-Americans was the result of directives given in your country, by your government. If such a directive were given today, what do you think you might be able to do about it?”
In addition to helping us with the artifact investigation, museum volunteers led us in two cultural experiences: origami folding and taiko drumming.
Following a “wise freedom” lunch, we returned to the Museum of Tolerance for the Anne Frank exhibit, which culminates in an experience of entering a recreation of the secret annex where you watch an immersive cinematic dramatization of life in Anne’s room. One extraordinary element: the room that leads to the annex entrance is lined with children’s clothing. As you start, the clothes are bright and colorful. As you approach the annex, the clothing displayed becomes darker, and duller, until all of the color is gone at the secret entrance.
Tonight, we will go to the Staples Center for a hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Tomorrow, we will return to the Museum of Tolerance for the Holocaust exhibit. In the afternoon, we will visit Oakwood, which is the school in Los Angeles that now has Jaime Dominguez as its new Head of School. Afterward, we will head to LAX for our return flight home.
As we are coming to the end of our first day in Los Angeles, I wanted to send out a brief update. After arriving at LAX and checking into our hotel, we visited the Museum of Tolerance for the “Finding Our Families, Finding Ourselves” exhibit. As we proceed through our trip, the boys will have various writing prompts. My favorite one from today is: “If you were to design an exhibit around yourself titled ‘Finding My Family, Finding Myself,’ what would you include in it, and why?”
For the evening, we had a “wise freedom” dining opportunity at the Grove, which ended with a choice of movies. After leaving the Grove, we ended with a group photo in front of a fountain.
Tomorrow, we will go to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the Japanese-American National Museum, the Museum of Tolerance and we will end with an evening at the Staples Center for an L.A. Kings hockey game.
Student Reflection by Adrian Vasquez, Gr. 12 Today our group traveled by train to Florence. We saw the Duomo, went to an outdoor market and visited the Uffizi Museum. The Duomo gave us access to the most stunning sights of the city with a 360-degree view. On the way up we saw a stunning painting on the inside of the dome depicting the last judgement in vivid detail. Following the Duomo, we walked through an outdoor market to a sprawling indoor food market. It was complete with delis, fish marts and restaurants serving everything from artisan vegetarian burgers to sushi. Walking around outside at lunch gave me a full sense of the city of Florence, a large town with a vibrant culture that still manages to feel small and collected. The city was celebrating carnival while we were there, which only added to the vibrancy and life in the city.
The last place we went was the Uffizi Museum, home to some of the most stunning artwork in the world. We saw examples of feudalistic artwork with incredibly intricate gold leaf patterns on them. This surprised me because the skill required to make something so detailed was equivalent to that of the best Renaissance artists, and I had always believed feudalistic art to be inferior. The museum continued through the Renaissance and Baroque periods of art. Although I had to stop for at least a minute on every painting and sculpture I saw, two specifically stood out to me. The first was Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, which fully lived up to my expectations. The second was Godfried Schalcken’s The Fame, which depicts a woman in a dark room with a single flame being held behind her. This was the first painting in an entire room of similar ones that create a deeply intense contrast of shadow and light by placing the source of light at the center of the image. Going to Florence put me face to face with some of the most stunning scenes of my life.
Today we traveled to a new country … Vatican City. After spending the morning exploring the Vatican Museums, we visited St. Peter’s Basilica. The students were able to see the artworks that they learned about in their classroom experiences and past research to broaden their understanding of ancient cultures.
Student Reflection by Jake Falconer, Gr. 11 Today we went to Vatican City to see the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and the tomb of Hadrian. My favorite artwork of the day was the “Creating Adam” piece on the Sistine Chapel ceiling done by Michaelangelo because of its immense fame. The piece is so famous that I have seen it countless times since I was young as the symbol of Renaissance art. The artwork is one of only a few that people know instantly without taking a single art class. Although I admired the painting’s beauty from images, seeing the painting in the context of the rest of the ceiling made the painting more beautiful. I felt a great sense of connection when looking at the painting everyone in the world knows in the middle of a crowd of people who were as amazed as me. I also enjoyed St. Peter’s Basilica. Among other things, the size of the church confused and amazed me the more I looked. As I looked at different parts of the church, I was perplexed by the gold-covered massive mosaics that represented years of manpower. Overall, the day showed me some of the greatest wonders of Italy and the world and revealed important history from before Christianity to the modern era.
The group visited a beautifully ornate church with gold and marble from floor to ceiling, a church with three levels of history (ancient Roman buildings and streets, a medieval church and a church that is still in use today), the Circus Maximus, which was used for chariot races, and the Baths of Caracalla. In the afternoon, they visited the Villa Borghese to admire the works of art.
Student Reflection by Gabby Vulakh, Gr. 12 Yesterday we visited the Musei Borghese. I have never seen more exquisite works of art in my entire life. Each room was more breathtaking than the last, filled floor to ceiling with extraordinary sculptures and paintings. Walking into the exhibit rooms was an exhilarating experience. I was immediately struck by the paintings on the ceilings which were extraordinary. I had to circle back to the same rooms at least three times to fully absorb all of the artwork. One time, though, was with my neck leaning back and head looking upwards to take in the majestic ceiling paintings. Walking through the museum was like a dream. In addition to the vibrant paintings, my favorite part of the museum were the hyper realistic sculptures. The marble seemed to melt into itself, shining smooth and pearly white. Where flesh touched flesh, the marble appeared to bend and come alive. The sculptures truly looked like they were real people frozen in time. I know I will definitely return to see all of the incredible pieces again.
Students visited the ancient ruins of Pompeii today. They explored the ruins throughout the city, sang in Latin and viewed the preserved frescos.
Student Reflection by Sean Mendiola, Gr. 12 I was amazed to see the frescos in the Pompeii villas. Seeing the frescos pop proved to me how advanced their lifestyle was. I was really impressed because Pompeiians took the time to show off their culture through art. Seeing the frescos and their beautiful colors reminded me that the story of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius was real, and it gives me a foundation to appreciate antiquity.
It was another day of walking over 25,000 steps (just under 10 miles!). The students enjoyed exploring the Musei Capitolini and Campus Martius. While at these locations, students presented site reports on a specific object. They each became an expert on their topic and described it to the group. Each site report provided insightful information that you might not find on a regular tour. Bryan Maruyama’s site report on the Statue of Cupid and Psyche was so well told that it drew a small crowd outside of our Latin group.