Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Anatomy abroad

Azle health sciences and forensics students return from Europe trip


AZLE — Last month, Azle High School students returned from an annual trip abroad after touring famous European capitals and learning the sometimes-gruesome history of medicine and crime on the continent.

For a whole year, AHS graduate Tristan Dorado saved over $400 from his El Gran Torito paycheck each month. By his last payment, the cost of the excursion totaled nearly $5,300. For Dorado, the trip of a lifetime was worth the cost and hours spent between being a full-time student, practicing for his state-qualifying criminal justice club and carting tacos at the local Mexican eatery.

Dorado learned about the trip when he started his first criminal justice class with Samantha Brown last year at AHS. Dorado had only recently moved to the Azle area and would not be able to fulfill the prerequisite to get into the forensics class that he would need to take for the trip. Fortunately, Brown granted him an exception and allowed him to bypass one of the two years of law enforcement classes needed to take the higher-level course.

“She told me about this trip, and she said that she knows that it’s going to be a lot but it’s going to be worth it,” Dorado said. “I took a couple of weeks to think about it and I signed up.”

The trip lasted from June 2 through June 12. The group’s first stop was in Toronto. After that, they flew to Edinburgh, Scotland before stops in London, England and Paris, France. The group arrived in Canada at 6:30 a.m. local time and “hit the ground running from there.” It was Dorado’s first time being outside the country apart from past excursions to the California-Mexico border where he stuck his arm through the border fence.

The group had a total of 22 travelers including 15 students and recent graduates, four parents and three chaperones including teachers James Rider and Samantha Brown. Throughout the journey, the Azle group joined up with another student group from a Weatherford school.

“Getting us into places was rough, especially the London Eye. They were so mad when they saw 43 of us walking up. Every car on the London Eye is about as big as this room so we just did it by school. We had to go first because we’re better,” Dorado said jokingly.

All the AHS students that traveled alongside Dorado came from the school’s Career and Technical Education forensics and health science classes. Dorado described the free periods where he and the others in his group could explore the streets and businesses in London and Edinburgh as one of the trip’s most memorable experiences.

“We had three hours to do whatever, and we found a little mini golf place,” Dorado said. “We went there, played a couple rounds and there was an arcade on it, too; played some pool, played some arcade games, then went to the museum. We had a bunch of free time in Scotland. Every night we’d just be walking, going up and down the streets seeing the local shops.”

On the trip, the group learned about the bubonic plague victims once housed in Mary King’s Close, took guided tours of each city, spoke with healthcare providers to learn the differences in healthcare delivery systems around the world and retraced the steps of the notorious 1888 “Leather Apron” killer, Jack the Ripper.

“All of his murders happened in walking distance of one another. I didn’t understand just how crazy this guy was until getting to know about it in detail,” Dorado said of the serial murderer. “There’s a lot of really gross history especially out in London where surgery was pioneered.”

Group members also got the chance to experience cultural foods from throughout Britain and France and visited iconic landmarks like Edinburgh Castle, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and more. In an email to the Tri-County Reporter, AHS health science teacher James Rider described watching former AHS students try new things like public transportation, and experience interesting cultural shocks as the best part of the trip.

“One thing that we tell our travelers is that we believe that international travel is one of the best investments they can ever make in themselves. It’s an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and the ‘normal day-to-day’ life that we are used to,” Rider said. “They have a chance to see how other cultures live with the added perspective of learning how other parts of the world deal with the healthcare needs of their citizens. This newly gained global view results in each person evaluating their own lives, daily routines, future careers and even the world around them back home. Traveling with our students and families gives us a chance to take the things we teach in our classrooms and labs and bring it to life for them so they can see (them) with their own eyes and hold (them) in their hands!”

For Dorado, who rode a subway for the first time in London, the attitudes of the people he met and the ways they traveled were some of the most striking differences he noticed.

“Everybody walks everywhere. I’m so used to being babied with my truck and being able to drive everywhere and everybody is just walking and taking a train everywhere,” Dorado said. “Then how rude people are in France; everybody is so rude. They were really only rude when I talked like an American. I did a little experiment and wanted to see if they’d still be rude to me if I put on a little English accent and it worked, they stopped up-charging me, they stopped being all rude, they actually talked to me when I tried talking to them just like in gift shops and everything. Especially when we got closer to Notre Dame, they’re really stuck up there. They really don’t like us.”

Though Dorado has currently decided to pursue a career in welding, he says the memories and connections he made on the trip he will treasure for the rest of his life.