Familiarisation, wonder and Gentle Ben’s….

The first official day of the Field Trip (21st February) was a familiarisation with the UofA (University of Arizona) Campus and surroundings (and eateries!), and the Museum.  It was quite an eye-opener…

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After breakfast we set off in lovely sunshine to walk from the hotel to campus.  It was an easy walk – left, left and just keep going!  (on the way back the only question was when to turn right, but a funeral parlour provided a useful marker!).

It is fair to say that the area surrounding Main Gate of Campus, and the Campus itself couldn’t really be more different to Glyntaf.  What became clear very early on was that your average UoA student probably has fewer money worries than a UK student.

Campus with Planetarium and Observatory

Campus with Planetarium and Observatory

Arizona 2015-153

Henry Koffler Building

The Campus itself was expansive, with a wide central boulevard, and some lovely buildings.  And then there were the other facilities: Museum, Theatre, Bookshop, Football Stadium (wrong type of football though!), Basketball Stadium, Swimming/Diving Complex, Mirror Lab, Observatory, Planetarium etc etc.  Quite something.  Explore more here.   We were to find out during the rest of the week there were many other excellent non-campus facilities too.

Football Stadium (hiding a Mirror Lab beneath!)

Football Stadium (hiding a Mirror Lab beneath!)

Gentle Ben's

Gentle Ben’s

We were assured that it was traditional for the first group meal of the Field Trip to be in Gentle Ben’s, so…. Team Photo 

Huge portions again, but very good.  


We were then free to explore.  Mike and I decided to visit the Arizona State Museum located on Campus.

Arizona State Museum

Arizona State Museum

The main exhibitions covered American Indians of the South West.  This was very interesting given we had already spent some time in the Navajo Reservations, and also seen an exhibition at the Grand Canyon.  While priorities were maybe different during the settlement times, it was difficult not to conclude that the treatment of the native peoples here (as in Australia, New Zealand etc) was often brutal.  That can only leave a lasting legacy of distrust and animosity.  On the other side, from conversations with non-Native Americans, it is clear that the Reservation system also leaves some non-Native Americans feeling disadvantaged.  While the old photos showed an age past, the Portraits By Native Youth exhibition were revealing of how Native high school students see themselves.  This was fascinating – and revealed young people just being young people.  Hope for the future?  (See for yourself here.)

In the evening we visited the Flandrau Planetarium,

A Proper Planetarium Projector

A Proper Planetarium Projector

not for a star show, but for a laser production of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.  While it was very cleverly put together…. I think I’d have preferred seeing the Light Side of the Moon!  The Planetarium is a great facility housing a proper analogue projector (rather than a digital one) and offering a wide variety of shows.  It is open every day, has very interesting exhibitions, and provides great opportunities for work for students too.  (It has to beat working in Tesco.)

We ambled back through campus to the hotel in what was still a nice temperature, just pausing to sit and watch the lovely fountain for a while….

An interesting day :-)




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