After a crazy intensive year of teaching 10,000 years of World History, my students take the AP World History exam in May – a comprehensive exam that includes 70 multiple choice questions and 3 essays. This decides whether the nightly homework like reading Ibn Battuta’s account of the Kingdom of Mali or writing an essay on the Mongols the day after Thanksgiving Break was worth all the stress. Once this exam is over, the kids can relax… but that’s when my stress begins. I anxiously await my students’ scores to see if they received college credit, but first the essays must be scored and that’s a huge process in itself.
For the past week, I’ve been in Salt Lake City with about 1,000 other history teachers, PhD students, and professors reading AP World History essays for the College Board. That’s 7.5 hours for 7 days straight of historical inaccuracies, doodling, special notes to the reader, and the occasional essay from a kid who knows more about history than me! Now, I know this sounds dreadfully boring, but there was quite a few bright spots revolving around adventures with the teachers I have met over the years at the reading. Every second we aren’t reading essays, we take advantage of all the city has to offer wherever we are.
Temple Square. Since we were in Salt Lake, we just had to visit the Mormon Temple Square. We even dubbed Thursday night as Mormon Night in honor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (free!) rehearsal we attended. We ate dinner at Nauvoo Cafe (aptly named after the Mormon town in Illinois in the 1840s – shortly after the start of the faith) which had some great toasted turkey sandwiches on wheat bread. The Tabernacle Choir lived up to their hype – huge and could certainly sing You Raise Me Up like no other (sorry, Josh Groban).
The Temple Square is full of colorful flowers and young newly married couples taking their wedding photos. All of this wandering around Temple Square did make me want to learn more about the Mormon faith. If you are in the same boat, I found the BBC did a great break down of the basic beliefs, although it didn’t talk much about the Book of Mormon which definitely separates them from the Protestants and Catholics (with the focus on Jesus preaching to the natives in America post resurrection- which was written down by Moroni – and then Angel of Moroni giving Joseph Smith directions to the golden plates that compose the Book of Mormon in the 1820s).
City Creek Shopping. Down the street from Temple Square, in the middle of downtown Salt Lake, is the newly developed City Creek Center shopping area. This outdoor mall has all the major stores like my favorites of JCrew, Loft, Gap, Banana Republic, and Express. It is also full of small children playing in the many fountains. This place looked modern and great for an everyday shopping trip, but the stores were nothing special to just Salt Lake City.
9th and 9th. We actually had a hard time finding local shops. Eventually we found the 9th and 9th local shopping district. There we came across the most delightful shop called Hip and Humble that was full of accessories, clothes, and home decor. This was quite the trek from the main part of downtown, but it actually brought us away from the perfectly constructed fountains and buildings (courtesy of the Salt Lake Olympics) and into the area where people really live. Another fun shopping area was Trolley Square. This brick mall had a few shops and restaurants and more of a local feel as well. Hopefully both of these areas will continue to develop with quaint stores and restaurants that are truly unique to Salt Lake!
With all the exploring I did, you would think that I found all sorts of desserts. Unfortunately, Salt Lake seemed to disappoint in this area. I did find a cupcake shop… it was closed. We had dinner at almost every brewery in town and, as expected, they had tons of beers that my guy friends partook in and loved. But the breweries left me brokenhearted with their lackluster cheesecakes and brownies a la mode. Sad, but such is life. I suppose it was best that the restaurant desserts were a bust because the convention center had warm and gooey cookies available during every lunch break. I just couldn’t resist these treats as I knew each afternoon awaited hours of essays. My waist line thanks you, Salt Lake City, for the lack of dessert options and long walks to find the local shops!
Overall, the city was a very pleasant place to visit. Not too busy and tons of random city parks and statues. The flowers around the city were breathtaking and probably one of my favorite things in Salt Lake City.