Early childhood through grade 12

Hawthorne Valley Association

The senior class returned from their Global Works trip to the Andalusia region of Spain, with Eileen Lee and Simon Frishkoff as their teacher chaperones. For several days everyone lived with and volunteered in the community Fundación Escuela de Solidaridad outside of Granada, learning about their Camphill-like social therapy approach and enjoying their warmth and appreciation. This community has taken as its motto the saying, “Lo que guarde no lo tengo; Lo que tengo lo perdi; Solo tengo lo que di,” which translates to, "What I hold onto I do not have; What I have, I lose; Only what I give away do I really have."

In Granada, the class toured and learned about the Alhambra, the magnificent Islamic fortress-castle-gardens that dates back to medieval times. Our tour guide, Juan, shared many historical details of why the fortress was built there (an abundant water source); how the layered building technique helps it withstand earthquakes; how much of the detailed carving, sculpture, and landscaping is designed to impress or intimidate visitors; and how the mother of the sultan who gave up the Alhambra to the Catholic conquerors told him that he was now crying like a girl at losing the citadel because he had failed to defend it like a man. We also heard how Washington Irving—the American writer famous in the Hudson Valley for his stories about Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle—popularized the Alhambra abroad with the book he wrote while living there, Tales of the Alhambra, in 1829.

Almost everywhere the seniors went in Granada, Cordoba, Seville, and Malaga, they could see examples of Islamic architecture and design as well as hear traces of Arabic in the Spanish words derived from Arabic. This made it all the more poignant learning about how the Muslims (and Jews) were either expelled from or forcibly converted to Christianity in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. Juan impressed upon us the fact that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were able to fund Columbus’s voyage to “India” in 1492 due to their having conquered Granada and the Alhambra that year.

The trip was full of rich experiences: a beginners flamenco dance class and a paella cooking class; walking through narrow city streets paved with cobblestones; cathedrals and castles brimming with art and decorative elements; a festival with music and dancing, where people were dressed in regional fancy outfits and which culminated in a fireworks display; enjoying the sights and sounds, the rich food, the warmth of the people, the warm temperature of the area, and the beach at Malaga before returning home.

For the seniors, the experience of going out into the world as a class while still living within the protective embrace of the school community is a final chance to practice together the looking outward and gazing inward that expressed every morning in the morning verse, “I look into the world in which the sun is shining…. I look into the soul that lives within my being….” Following the senior play (June 1st and 2nd) and graduation (June 10th), the graduates will continue their expansion into the wider world individually, wherever that journey takes each one of them. They may look back and reflect on this shared experience of their senior trip for inspiration to carry them through times of loneliness or loss. Perhaps the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and sensations of the trip will inspire the graduates in their own expressions of love, music, and poetry, and they will have the deeply rewarding experience of knowing that what they give away to others is what they truly own in life.

Written by Simon Frishkoff, High School Chairperson