Colorado Academy’s foreign travel and educational exchange program is designed to challenge students physically and intellectually, and then allow them to bring back to the classroom the depth and wealth of their experiences. Recent spring and summer programs included a service trip to Senegal, a trip to the French Caribbean Islands, an educational exchange with a Pre-K – 12 school in Buenos Aries, Argentina, a service trip to Haiti, and a photography trip to Iceland.Global Dispatches:

From Meg Hill, Upper School teacher, who, along with faculty member Brett James have twice taken students to Senegal.

Traveling in Senegal is a total-sensory experience.  At times, nothing feels familiar; tastes, sounds, smells aren’t like anything most of us have experienced before, but then we are comforted by the welcoming smile and friendly touch of strangers and realize that our common ground is truly vast and deep.  This Third World, not-on-a-tour-bus kind of travel allows students to learn and wonder about their surroundings in palpable and unforgettable ways. Human connection is at the root of it all and the CA travelers sewed their seeds in Senegal with compassion and gratitude.  Each student rose to the challenges of the trip (imagine 100 degrees with nearly as much humidity) with enthusiasm, curiosity, and flexibility.  After our seven-day homestay in the remote village of Dindefelo (nearly 16 hours by car from the capital, Dakar), gifts were exchanged and some tears shed as we said goodbye to our extended families. The students were remarkable examples of what passionate global citizenship looks like. They helped finish construction of a school library, participated in village ceremonies and daily activities, spontaneously interacted with people of all ages, all the while picking up as much of the local language, Pular, as they could.

From Cathy Bird, Middle School French Instructor.

Our eight-day experience in Martinique allowed our Middle School students to challenge themselves both physically and linguistically. We paddled the coast in sea kayaks and meandered through a mangrove forest; we hiked from the historic high cliffs of Château du Buc and snorkeled along the coast. I can say that I have never traveled with such a willing group. They accepted the challenges we gave them each day and made connections between what they were hearing and what they had learned in class. Through fatigue and flight delays, mosquito bites and sea urchin splinters, these wonderful students made me so very proud. I was, without a doubt, the trip of a lifetime. 

From Andres Robleros, Upper School teacher, who along with Upper School Spanish teacher Lisa Todd, accompanied students on a three-week educational exchange with a school in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

An exchange program exposes students to new ideas and different cultures as it allows them to face challenging situations in unfamiliar environments.

This past summer, three rising CA seniors stayed with host families and attended school. While there, they were able share some of the most important aspects of CA and our American culture with their classmates, teachers and families. They gave several presentations to Upper and Lower school students, in both Spanish and English, on everything from recycling in America to their life in the United States. Needless to say, I am extremely proud of our students, as they were exceptional ambassadors of our school and our nation.  Says one student, “We were fully immersed and included in the daily lives of the people living around us. For the first week after my return to Denver, I even felt homesick for my family in Buenos Aires.” Another says,  “My experience in Argentina was amazing… I returned to Denver with a much deeper understanding of the Spanish language and culture! I absolutely loved it!”

From Head of School Mike Davis. After two successful faculty trips to rural Haiti, this summer Colorado Academy Head of School Mike Davis and other teachers took students to CA’s sister school in the mountainous Haitian village of Nordette. Six CA Upper School students made the journey.

Wrote Davis to his fellow student travelers, “Thanks for being resilient and open-minded. You did so well with difficult travel conditions and did an amazing job connecting with the students of Nordette.  Nothing about the trip was easy. You represented yourself and Colorado Academy very well!”  CA is providing help to the school in a variety of ways: The CA group took along more than 1,000 solar lights made by the Denver-based Nokero company to this rural community where there is no electricity. Also, CA has partnered with the Denver-based non-profit The Road to Hope to construct a new building for the children at St. Patrick’s School.

From Nikki Antenucci, CA Class of 2014, a photography student on the Iceland trip.

I have more than 2,000 photos to document our nine days in Iceland. I loved learning new photography skills, but even more, I loved exploring the country of Iceland with other CA students and our teacher Jesse Myers. One of my favorite memories is playing soccer with the local children in the middle of the night during some of the 22 hours of daylight there. A group of CA students began playing soccer at the town field at 11:30 p.m. and some Icelandic children joined in the game. Although the children didn’t speak English, everyone laughed and ran around for hours. I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun.