Our surroundings play a fundamental role in our development and, while this can often be a very positive thing, it can also be a source of stagnation in our thoughts and behaviours. When we change our context, we free ourselves from rigid patterns of thought and allow ourselves to delve deeper into our learning. Open Minds Experiences ask students to re-examine their geographical and temporal perspectives and to consider the place they hold within them. In doing so, students challenge themselves to approach life with curiosity and without preconceptions. The Sierra de Guara provides the ideal canvas for such a profound re-imagining of our world.
The Sierra de Guara is a rugged, mountainous region dotted with olive groves and small, traditional villages. Canyons and rivers cut their way through the hills and surge through the many valleys. The region’s combination of an ancient and medieval legacy with a dramatic atmosphere and huge vistas provide an ideal backdrop for students to explore subjects such as history, art history, literature and creative writing in new ways, offering fresh perspectives on traditional subjects.
A key focus of 2019’s Experience is our perception of landscapes. Students will explore the difference between natural and constructed places, considering how we define these terms at a time when human impact is becoming an increasingly prominent part of a global conversation. The presence of ancient rock art and modern land art throughout the area provide a unique opportunity to ground reflections on landscape, nature, time and human perception in first-hand experience. These themes will be explored using drama activities, space awareness games, photography, sculpture building, sketching, storytelling and exploration and adventure.
The following provides a sample of some of the activities that students will participate in during Open Minds Experience 2019.
The Sierra de Guara is famous for its impressive canyons, which are best experienced from within the canyon itself. Students will have the opportunity to climb, dive and swim in some of the region’s many rivers with the help of expert guides.
Alquezar is a picturesque, medieval village situated on a limestone outcrop and the starting point of a number of adventurous walks, scaling the mountains with the help of pasarelas (walkways). These walkways are built into the sides of the mountain, allowing for an adrenaline-filled bird’s eye view of the landscape.
Head to Rodellar
The small village of Rodellar marks a transition from constructed space to natural space; it is the end point of one of the Sierra’s few roads and the starting point of one of the many rivers. From Rodellar it is a short trip to another impressive canyon, this one famous for the climbing it has on offer, in addition to the many river pools that can be explored.
The full spectrum of historical to modern art is on offer in the Sierra de Guarra. From the pre-historic cave paintings high in the valley above Alquezar to the spectacular examples of modern land art sculptures scattered across the region, there is much to explore and reflect upon. These pieces will inform many of the themes of the week offering the perfect canvas to explore humanity and its place within the landscape.
The region of Spain is famous for delicious, healthy food and there will be many occasions to sample the local dishes in rustic and traditional settings. Students will also have the opportunity to explore their own culinary talents, as they will working together to cook some of the evening meals during the trip.