England 2017

By Sue Dziura, Faculty Fine & Performing Arts

The Dziura Family stand in front of the Globe Theatre in London

As an Academy, traveling has become a passion, and sometimes obsession, in our house. Mr. Michael Dziura — my husband and most importantly “daddy” — has led many WMA student trips to places all over the world. Our three children have watched and listened to his stories and fantasize about elaborate trips for themselves. Last summer was the right time for us to take advantage of my Hubbard Faculty Travel Grant opportunity, and the kids got to choose where to go. We spent an incredible week in London. David Bowie, Dr. Who, Harry Potter, William Shakespeare . . . these are a few of our favorite things.

I was preparing to teach a Shakespeare course during the winter trimester, and I was excited to get to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and learn about the Bard in London, the birthplace of professional theater and the first home to his plays. My son, Gabriel ’24, daughter Camille and I toured the inside, immersing ourselves in Elizabethan London. We even had a chance to record ourselves reading some of Shakespeare’s most iconic lines alongside some of the great actors of the London stage.

As a family, we are always more interested in vacationing in a city. We love to jump into a day with a destination in mind, but no real plan for how to get there. We saw the city this way — we took the water taxi, rode the Tube and walked. We saw St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace all while making our way to an evening performance at Royal Albert Hall. Our collective favorite tourist destination was the Tower of London. We spent hours walking over the worn cobblestones, listening to dark tales from the Beefeaters. As a lover of historical fiction, I have read many a scene in a novel of a condemned Anne Boleyn being led in through the Traitors’ Gate. It was pretty exciting to see it for myself, and to share the experience as a family.

We stayed in Rotherhithe, a residential district in Southeast London. Our hotel overlooked the Thames. One of our favorite parts of the trip was to head outside, across the street to a neighborhood playground after breakfast. Our three kids made friends from all over the world in the hours that we spent there. In general, the thing that I appreciated the most about London was its incredible diversity. It truly is a global city — people from all over the world are present and visible. From our conversation in a cab with a Kurdish man about the upcoming elections for independence for Kurdistan to my kids learning French folk songs from a young Belgian family, we had truly transformational experiences.

As the winter trimester approached, I felt more prepared, more solid and more excited to teach this new Shakespeare course. Going to the Globe has given me a bit of connection to the man, and I am excited to share that with my students. The greatest takeaway for my entire family, however, has been the shoring up of our global perspective. Mr. Lev Hubbard, through his generous grant, has allowed my family to crack open our world a little wider and make important connections between our lives here in Western Massachusetts and those all over the world.