The following description was written by a parent at The New School who accompanied a group of TNS students to Iceland in May. View more photos from this unforgettable trip here.

For over a year, nine TNS students planned, raised funds for, and finally in May, embarked on a trip to Iceland as an annual Intensive learning experience that is a hallmark of education at TNS. The students immersed themselves in hiking and photography in one of the most beautiful and untouched places on the planet. The landscape was almost inexplicable at times, from the dramatic cliffs that were the site of early Viking settlements and multiple ship wrecks, to the untouched interior flowing with waterfalls of melting glacier ice and jarring fields of moss-covered lava rock where sheep happily thrive.

Some members of the group, having done prior research, took on the role of historians, explaining the significance of the fishing trade, the original Viking inhabitants, and the historical site at Thingvellir where earlier settlers met and represented their towns in the general assembly. There is a great feeling of community in this sparsely populated country that shows itself in the small gathering spots, often churches, in each of the small towns.

In line with our school’s philosophy, the students also planned a “giving back” experience, which led them to the eco-village of Solheimar.  This sustainable community was founded in 1930 and fully embraces the philosophy of humans living in harmony with each other and the earth.  TNS students worked in the greenhouses and outdoor gardens, and got to experience that amazing community feel during breaks and meals with the residents and other schools that were visiting the village.

In addition to personal journals that were kept as part of the curriculum on the trip, each student took a turn sending a group email to all the parents back home with musings of the day. This provided a unique voice to each day that pulled the entire TNS community into the experience.