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After reading their blog and writing our own post about Gould Academy's 9th Grade class trip to China, we wanted to know more- about the program's genesis, it's philosophy & goals, and how it fits into Gould's program.

We wrote Tucker Kimball, Gould's Director of Communication and he was kind enough to fill us in and share some photos (see gallery below):

1. How does the China trip fit as part of the Ninth Grade Program? What concepts will the China trip provide, emphasize, teach, reinforce and teach?
 
Tucker Kimball (TK): This trip is part of Gould's larger Four Point Program. Four Point, as it is known around campus, provides each class with an unforgettable experience that takes students out of their comfort zones and provides the opportunity for self reflection and growing self confidence. During the last week in February, ninth graders travel internationally, sophomores remain on campus engaged with local artists and the local community, juniors spend 8-10 days winter camping in the White Mountains, and seniors follow their own passions through independent projects that often take them around the globe.
 
For many ninth graders, this trip to China is their first experience traveling internationally. Imagine being 14 or 15 again and traveling to China? It is an amazing opportunity and one that is so important to Gould's mission of preparing each student for the global community. Our ninth graders will come away more unified as a class and, individually, each one will have learned more about his/her self and that they are part of something larger.
 

2. Is the trip a culmination of a specific course of study?  Do students study China specifically before the trip or does the ninth grade program revolve around teaching concepts and China is 'this year's  trip?"
 
TK: There is an intentional, shared curriculum in place for our ninth graders that works in concert with ninth grade Four Point. Through their English and Human Geography courses, ninth graders learn about China's landscape both physical and cultural through novels, poetry, and film. They've studied Taoism, Confucianism and the Cultural Revolution. So, they have a great background before they leave and are that much more engrossed in the culture when they arrive, culminating in a very powerful experience.
 

3. Does the entire ninth grade go?

TK: Yes, every year the entire ninth grade travels internationally. The Four Point Program is a graduation requirement.


4. What's the goal for the students?  How will they use the trip after their return?  Will teaching and lessons continue drawing on the trip for the rest of the year?

TK: Each student is required to keep a 60 page journal based on themes they've covered in their English and Human Geography classes. When they return, each student creates a 500 word narrative from their journal. This serves as the script for a digital story that each creates layering narrative, photos and finally sound.
 
The reflection aspect of Four Point is a very important part of the program. The experience does not end once they return. It changes into something just as a powerful, as they begin to process the trip and how it has affected them and their view of their world. Self discovery through experience is something Gould is very good at. 

You gotta love the stories that get told through blogging. As part of the Gould Academy's Four Point Program, the entire ninth grade class is wrapping up 12 day trip to China. You didn't misread; the entire ninth grade traveled to China to experience a different culture and gain some perspective and understanding.

During their trip students and faculty kept a blog in which they documented their trip from planning forward. The students seem to have done a nice job getting out and working to experience the unfamiliar language and happenings. The blog includes some observational student and adult writing as well as a good number of pictures.

Gould students took language lessons; practiced calligraphy; got out into the countryside; visited the Great Wall; experienced a tea ceremony; visited temples and shrines; spent time with host families, and most importantly met and connected with other students.

Some of my favorite excerpts/observations from Gould in China:

We ate lunch nearby at a restaurant along the river. The students quickly made the connection between the vegetables and livestock on display outside the restaurant and lunch itself. (March 2)

Now imagine a crowded city sidewalk with people streaming in both directions, ducking and diving in and out of the tightest gaps imaginable. Only in this case, instead of people on a sidewalk it is cars, buses, scooters, and bikes in the middle of the road. The lines mean next to nothing as our taxis regularly crossed the double yellow line into oncoming traffic in order to gain an advantage on the bus or Audi just ahead. Apparently the only rule is that if your nose is ahead, even by a few inches, you have the right of way. Just when you think you can relax, a scooter will be cutting across four lanes of speeding cars going the wrong direction in an effort to make a side street, all while dodging the ever present pedestrians in the middle of the street. Liberal use of the horn, and a fearless willingness to do whatever it takes, seem to be the only requirements for driving a cab in China. It is truly an experience that has to be seen to be appreciated, though it is not for the faint of heart. (March 2)

Two brave students, Tutu and Will chose to do a very Chinese thing- have their ears cleaned on the street by men with tuning forks and a variety of tools. As with any endeavor that takes place in the street, it drew a big crowd! (February 27)
Part of the Larger Picture
Far from a just-for-fun trip, Gould designs their trip with a purpose. Students have worked through a curriculum designed to support their travel experiences prior to traveling and they will work to produce pieces drawing on their experiences as they complete their school year.

In addition to their trip blog, checkout the Ninth Grade Program blog to learn more.
Proctor Academy has an interesting blog post (which we learned about on their Twitter feed) emanating from its Mountain Classroom and their time floating down the Rio Grande between Texas and Mexico.

A mood of sameness, but difference runs through the piece. Constructed definitions and vocabulary, but what do these things mean and how do they affect the people living on the ground.

"To the left, America. To the right, Mexico. Interesting how they appear to be exactly the same."
What makes the two different are the terms and values that we assign them and when we examine our language, assumptions and definitions, we learn a lot about ourselves.
There's a different way to think about boarding school. Boarding school can take you beyond the United States. International boarding schools have the ability to place you in a different environment, language and culture.

Say "boarding school" and most people's minds conjure visions of traditional New England boarding schools. Idyllic, well cared for campuses, small classes, dorm life, athletics, extracurricular activities and involved faculty. The view is mostly accurate.

Think the movie, Dead Poet's Society and John Knowles' novel A Separate Peace.

Going abroad can provide a host of experiences that enhance and make the traditional boarding experience richer and more challenging. You can learn a new language; travel and live in a unique part of the world; immerse yourself in the customs and perspectives of a different culture and, most importantly, you can practice flexibility, thoughtfulness and tolerance as you live and learn in new ways.

Many of these study abroad boarding school opportunities are defined term programs- providing some nice benefits in terms of educational planning and flexibility. The fixed term doesn't require a multi-year commitment as traditional boarding school might. Upon completion, you return to your former school. And, if you choose a summer only program, your traditional school year program maintains continuity.

Four programs with long, strong, histories and different perspectives offer reputable study-abroad programs for high school students.

School Year Abroad
SYA offers programs in China, France Italy, Spain and India.  Briefly from their web site:

SYA began as "Schoolboys Abroad" when 12 students and three teachers left for Spain in September 1964 with the backing of Phillips Academy; Phillips Exeter Academy became a co-sponsor in 1965; the French program opened in Rennes with 42 boys in 1967; and St. Paul's School (NH) joined as a third sponsor in 1968. In 1970 the program began admitting girls and changed its name. Two years later additional secondary schools were invited to join SYA as member schools of the first incarnation of our consortium; and in 1975 School Year Abroad was legally established as a nonprofit institution with a board of trustees  comprised of the heads of the three charter member schools.

The Experiment in International Living
The Experiment offers summer programs in 17 countries.  From the Experiment's web site:

Through homestays, adventure travel, experiential learning, and language immersion, students build leadership and communication skills, gain essential international experience, increase their self-confidence, and enhance their global awareness. Whatever the destination or focus, all Experiment summer abroad programs engage students in a profoundly moving educational journey of cultural exploration and discovery.

Each Experiment is a laboratory without borders, where Experimenters live with local families and explore themes from the arts to ecology that serve as windows of learning into another way of life. The Experiment's international summer high school programs feature opportunities in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Oceania, and Asia. For three to five weeks, Experimenters focus on themes such as community service, language study, travel, ecology, the arts, sustainable development and fair trade, cooking, photography, theater, or outdoor adventure as they enjoy daily life with their host families and participate in activities with their group.

Leysin American School
Leysin offers traditional nine month academic year and summer program for high school students and they now have a junior high program all in Leysin, Switzerland.  From Leysin's web site:

...The school they imagined was to be a place without boundries- where students from every country could learn to be citizens of the world together wher mouintains would build their strength and teachers their minds.  A place that would be beautifully hidden and yet in the middle of everything.  They called it Leysin American School.  Today, it's lived up to their dreams and beyond...

EduKick International Soccer Boarding Schools
EduKick brings an athletic perspective to study abroad.  Specializing in soccer player opportunities and development, EduKick offers International Soccer Boarding Schools in Italy, Spain, France, England, Mexico and Brazil.  Edukicks gears it's programs to soccer players of considerable talent and dedication using the description, "Professional Soccer Development Academic Year Boarding Schools"

EduKick describes its programs this way:

Training and studying abroad in an EduKick international soccer boarding school equips young student-players for life's challenges in a way no other experience can. Not only will they be prepared for a competitive international soccer environment, they will learn a deep appreciation for a new language and culture as well. By participating in an EduKick Soccer Boarding School Program, a player distinguishes himself from his peers as a soccer player by committing to a year-long soccer development training course abroad. Players learn that the world is much bigger than their neighborhood and they begin to consider their potential within this "bigger" world!

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