In 2008 East Central College art teacher Adam Watkins decided to take a group of students to London over spring break and has gone eight years since. He came upon the idea from his past experience studying abroad in Europe. The history deriving from London plays a huge role in the art world, and it has so many learning opportunities for students. Students even learn the “basics” like how to use the subway, or in London the tube they visit Westminster Abbey and visit the globe theater.
“I want it to be an organic trip. I encourage students to research before we go to get ideas of places to visit. One year we went to Stonehenge. There are several museums that hold the original art pieces that we learn about in our textbooks,” Watkins said, “I think educationally it’s one of the best expansions of the classroom.”
One major concern for the trip is the cost. It cost between $900$1200 just for a single student’s plane ticket and an addition $300 for their share of the hotel bill and that does not yet include spending money or the conversion charge from dollars to pounds. Because of the traditional atmosphere of the trip the art students have learned to fundraise to help with costs. Watkins said a student even sold their car in order to pay for the trip and another sold their bed and claimed their grandma had a couch they could sleep on instead.
Some students sell simple things like candy bars to help. The art club plans to go back to London over spring break of 2016 and has successfully paid for their hotel costs through fundraising.
Photojournalist Daniel Shular attended the East Central London trip in 2010 as a graphic design student active in the art club.
“It was kind of overwhelming the first couple of days, this was the biggest city I had ever been to, and I had never been on a subway before. Around the time of this trip I was becoming more serious about pursuing photography as a career choice,” Shular said, “Some of the pictures I took were selected to be in the student show at the art gallery on campus. This trip and taking art classes made me decide to go to art school and pursue a BFA after graduating.”
Shular said students should jump at the idea of this kind of travel. He could not have afforded a trip like this on his own but through fundraisers the art club did he was able to go.
Photography was always an interest of Shular’s and living in the midwest he said it may have become a bore until he attended this trip and explored out of his comfort zone. Shular graduated ECC with an associates in Graphic Design and Multimedia and graduated UMSL with a BFA in photography. He is currently a freelance photojournalist and a director for a Chronicle, a nonprofit organization.
“We are creating a historical photobook of the events in Ferguson and St. Louis from pictures that were taken by anyone who was at any events of the past year and creating a curriculum to go with it about the history of the region that will be donated to all the local schools, libraries, and colleges. It was only going to be a photo/art show and it has grown into this new project,” Shular said.
With London being the home of more than just historical paintings and sculptures during the 2016 spring break journalism students are also making the voyage to London.
“It was kind of the natural partner. It is home to half the Parthenon. The British library is one of the best in the world. You become an observer and for any artist, a painter or writer, it shows through your work,” Watkins said.
Journalism students were invited in mid September of 2015, and have hit some roadblocks along the way with deadlines approaching to ensure their seat on that plane in March. “Money is an issue a lot of the time when it comes to traveling, but when it’s a trip like this I know I’m going to profit from my memories and my experiences,” Journalism student Kaelyn Adams said.
Watkins has one goal for the trip.
“It’ll change your view of the world and if I can be instrumental in the way students view themselves in the world then I will feel like I’ve done something,” Watkins said.