“We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.” John Hope Franklin, American historian
On Monday 18 June, nine students and their WVC Study Abroad Program Faculty Leader, Victor Castillo (a faculty member in Administration of Justice in West Valley College’s Fang Pei Che School of Professional Studies), departed SFO for London, England where they met the Field Director for EF College Study Tours and spent eight days examining the art of criminal justice and tracking the evolution of the British legal system. In addition to immersing themselves in the city of London and its rich culture, students also completed the embedded course, Administration of Justice 21 Community Relations, taught by Mr. Castillo.
This course examines the complex, dynamic relationship between communities and the justice system in addressing crime and conflict. The course’s fundamental emphasis is on the challenges and prospects of administering justice within a diverse multicultural population, and on considering consensus and conflicting values in culture, religion, and law. This particular section of the class also aimed to compare British and American perspectives.
Two days after their arrival, Mr. Castillo sent the following update:
Cheers from London! The Administration of Justice group has arrived in the U.K! In the two and half days we have been in London, we have experienced so much. We met our expert local guide, explored downtown London ( especially the Borough Market) and enjoyed a fish and chip dinner. On day two, we toured the Old Bailey Courthouse and sat in on the court proceedings of six neo-Nazis on trial for terrorism. It was amazing!!! Later in the evening, we toured the sites of five Jack the Ripper murders in East London. It was quite eerie and interesting.
Earlier today we toured Westminster–specifically the Inns of Court, Royal Courts of Justice, and the Supreme Court. Our group was allowed to observe hearings in two criminal case appeals. One case involved a woman who tried to stab her husband and the other a man who was found guilty of robbery with a firearm.
Finally, the group met with a Metropolitan Police officer for an intimate meet and greet. He provided our students with his perspective after serving 30 years in the police force.
In addition to the many sites that Mr. Castillo describes, after checking in at the Best Western Highbury hotel, they also familiarized themselves with the Strand (the major thoroughfare in the City of Westminster in Central London), Trafalgar Square (a traffic island) and its wonderful fountains and architecture, Leicester Square, a pedestrianized square laid out in 1670 that is located in the heart of London’s West End, and Covent Garden, the affluent district in Greater London that is packed with places to shop, theaters, restaurants, bars, museums, interesting architecture, history, and culture.
The next day, they toured the Houses of Parliament (also called Palace of Westminster in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), established in 1265! That is the central seat of government where the two parliamentary houses–the Lords and the Commons–meet. The oldest hall of the Houses of Parliament is Westminster Hall; it dates to 1097. During this guided tour, the group learned about 1,000 years of history as well as modern day politics.
Right after, they visited the Tower of London, known officially as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, and used as a prison from 1100 to 1952. It has also served as an armory, a treasury, the home the Crown Jewels of England, the Royal Mint, a menagerie, and a public record office–so the visit led to good discussions. After, they ate a delicious Indian dinner.
Here is an excellent photo essay about the week created by Victor Castillo.
Once back in California, Mr. Castillo wrote:
Good morning. We have concluded our trip and last night at approximately 2200 hours, seven of the nine students arrived back at SFO without incident. Two of the students ( Veronica and Nicole) decided to stay and travel for an additional week. Overall, the trip was a success.
Maria North: I learned so much in the past 8 days on my trip to London! I saw what it’s like to live and exist in London. I got to see all the culture and history of this beautiful city, especially the melting pot of different ethnicities and exciting things all around. I got to visit the different street markets and taste different cuisines from all over. I experienced what it’s like to be an immigrant in a foreign country–not being judged for being a woman or for the color of my skin, just simply judged for being an American. I got treated well, and I got treated harsh at some points. But it was about the judgement of being just American and nothing else. I learned that adapting can be hard and that it takes time.
London is fascinating. Seeing the Royal Courts of Justice and the Parliament was great. I explored and learned about their criminal justice system. I learned from an expert tour guide about all the basics of the Ministry of Justice and CPS. I got to view open courthouse trials, which they take seriously. The proceedings are different depending on each criminal case. I learned about the notorious serial killer Jack The Ripper and how he committed his murders.
London has taught me so much. Walking across London Bridge and observing London lifestyles was just so interesting. If I could do it all over again I would definitely do it. I am so grateful for this opportunity to travel abroad and to experience everything this study tour offered.
Mariana Teves Trujillo: Throughout this expedition, my thirst for exploration rose as a strong desire. I’m thankful to be gifted with this opportunity to interact my way across the city and to absorb brand new knowledge. As someone who struggles with public speaking, I am grateful to communicate with citizens of the United Kingdom. The experience has made me develop the confidence to open up as a better person, especially as an influencer. This has enlightened me to accept my background and to put more dedication into every opportunity that I get.
I wandered through passageways, strolled under bridges and around corners, noticing old architecture and modern structures standing side by side. The antiquity being kept along with modern buildings is beautiful. I exposed myself to different situations and surroundings, and that encouraged me to do better and to move towards my capability and the future that’s right in front of me.
Returning home I have been inspired to share my experiences with family, close friends, and people who have supported me throughout this journey. I realized that this is something that I want to do in this lifetime. This journey has opened barriers that once terrified me. This experience has formed in me the desire to understand what this astonishing globe can give us. I know that I must visit other well known destinations, because they will teach me a wide variety of ideas and history.
As an Administration of Justice major, I was able to better understand the relationship between police agencies and the community and how that relationship impacts the general public. The Study Abroad Program has enlightened the career path that I am following.