“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people." --JFK, Remarks on the 20th Anniversary of the Voice of America. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. February 26, 1962
In other news, Altamont students and faculty packed up and ventured off to destinations local and distant during the annual early October tradition known as Fall Project Week. Each trip is carefully planned and curated by Altamont faculty. Many of the trips involved team building; many centered around service, and others featured immersions into unique cultures. A few highlights-
FPW Tampa/Miami trip The Tampa/Miama trip exposed students to the rich Hispanic diversity of southern Florida. Led by Spanish teacher Constanza Bello and Athletic Director Barry Bearden, the students enjoyed Cuban and Colombian food. They experienced the sights, sounds, and flavors of Little Havana. At the Freedom Tower, the group learned about the Cuban immigrant experience. The group was awed by the Vizcaya museum and gardens. And the students cut loose a bit, enjoying lessons on traditional Hispanic dances, like the Salsa, Merengue, and Bachata.
Scandinavia The Scandinavia trip escaped the late-summer saturation of Birmingham and savored the beautiful, cooler, northern latitudes! Led by English teacher Elizabeth Coleman and History Chair Chris Thomas, this was a trip saturated with literary, historical, and cultural highlights. The group visited the Viking Museum, the Nobel museum, the Vigeland Sculpture Park. They stepped into the world of a famed author and story, visiting Isak Dinesen’s home and Kronborg Castle (Hamlet’s Castle in Elsinore). And they stepped back in time in Sigtuna, the oldest town in Sweden, which had original, rune-carved stones. And, as it is probably a requisite guest experience, they ate herring and Swedish meatballs!
Books, Blues, and Barbeque One of the truly legendary trips on the annual FPW line-up—a trip that alums recall fondly and on which adults passionately bid, is English teacher Jimmy Wiygul’s Books, Blues, and Barbeque. Wiygul reminds us that “It’s hard to get global with a trip to the Mississippi Delta, but blues music originates from Africa.” Wiygul continues: "…we did spend some time at the site in Tutwiler, Mississippi, where W.C. Handy first heard this strange music - a man playing a guitar with a knife sliding on the frets, singing about "going where the Southern cross the Dog." W. C. Handy is considered the Father of the Blues, but I asked them who, then, is the guy playing the strange music that W. C. Handy later charted and formalized into music that we call the blues, and where did that guy learn that music. Rather than go on about it here, I'll attach the little lesson I gave the students before we went on the trip, which connects the Robert Johnson song "Crossroad Blues" to a few West African myths. We also visited quilting ladies there, but I did not discuss with them or the students quilting patterns, derived from West African symbols, which slaves used to communicate along the Underground Railroad. There is a little info on that in the attachment."