Editor’s Note: At the Table is an international exchange program that connects high school students in Philadelphia and Riga. The program, undertaken by the National Constitution Center in collaboration with the National History Museum of Latvia, began the travel portion of the project. One student participant, Ruby Payette, discusses her experience in Lizums (a village in the Latvian countryside).
On Thursday, the day before the last of our trip, we got up early to head off to our final school visit. We got on our bus and drove two and a half hours away to a very small town called Lizums. The school we visited was in an old castle belonging to a man named Baron Wolfe.
First, we received a tour through the main castle tower, which had been converted into the school’s own mini museum, and then we got the whole school tour which included a viewing of the top-secret chemicals in the science teachers’ “lab” and a walk into the teeny room called the “DJ room” which was spray painted with cool designs to give a hip funky artsy vibe.
After a quick delicious lunch at the local cafe, we then split into groups according to color of our name tags and rotated through the different events planned for us.
My group went to watch, and even try for ourselves, a folk dancing performance by some students from the Lizums school. Then my group was brought back to the castle to brainstorm ideas about civic engagement and contrast American culture with Latvian culture.
After that, we moved on to my favorite part of the day…the CANDY FACTORY! We were able to try to wrap some of the caramels ourselves and then buy bags upon bags of the candies produced in the factory as we were leaving.
We then returned to the castle-school to present each group’s brainstorms (from the part of the day when we discussed civic engagement) to the entire group. After a big photo on the front steps of the school, we said our goodbyes and took the long bus ride home.
To end the busy day, we went to find a restaurant that was highly recommended by a new friend; after about 30 minutes of running around in circles, we finally found the restaurant, and though some of us were frustrated and hungry after our wild goose chase, the magnificent food was well worth the wait.
At the Table: Connecting Culture, Conversation and Service in Latvia and the U.S. was funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with American Association of Museums. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of State.