The last few years have been particularly exciting for Colorado Academy’s ambitious Global Travel Program. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Daniel Lopez, our Director of Global Travel and Exchange Programs, as well as several dedicated faculty members and the ongoing support of Dr. Mike Davis, we have put together a great lineup of opportunities for our students in Grades 5-12. While travel experiences have long been a feature of a Colorado Academy education, the overall organization and goals of the program have been strengthened, and best practices are being implemented across the board.
One of the specific and most formative experiences available to Upper School students is our yearly trip to Nordette, Haiti, where our faculty and students have been traveling since 2012. Frequently partnering with the nonprofit, The Road To Hope, Colorado Academy has helped build a school, as well as provide materials like solar-powered lights, musical instruments, and school supplies to a remote village in central Haiti. In just a few weeks, a group of sixteen students will be traveling there once again. Most students will be going for the first time, but six Juniors and Seniors are returning travelers, providing a degree of student leadership that is essential to the success of the trip. Stuart Mills and Jesse Schumacher, longtime leaders of this program, will be returning, along with three other faculty members.
Scotland, Turkey, Colombia
Additionally, our three student exchange partnerships in schools around the world are going strong. Two of these exchanges have been running for a few years—in Glasgow, Scotland with Hutchesons’ Grammar School, and in Istanbul, Turkey with Üsküdar American Academy (see my blog post of Oct. 12). Students spend two weeks with host families in these two locations. This year, we are also adding a Spanish immersion exchange with Gimnasio Los Caobos in Bogotá, Colombia; our students will go there for the first time in March, and then welcome their exchange students to Colorado Academy in April. Previously, we partnered with a school in Argentina, but had been looking for a new exchange school for the past year. This school in Colombia marks a fresh start and will allow students to see a different part of South America.
Our four Scottish exchange students recently came to Colorado in mid-October, and CA’s four juniors will visit their school in March. Turkish students and teachers from Üsküdar will visit our campus in January, and then our students go there in October, 2019.
Language immersion—and more
Through these exchanges, we expose our students to different schools and different cultures. In some cases there is a language immersion component involved, which also expands the students’ learning opportunities. And the relationship with these countries extends well beyond the specific students and faculty involved; the entire community benefits from the knowledge and experiences, and many students can learn from their interactions with the exchange students who come to Colorado Academy.
Cultural competency is one of the 6 C’s that Colorado Academy actively promotes, and getting students out into the world is a major component of achieving success in that area. Through careful monitoring and by collecting student and adult feedback, we are able to keep making these programs even better. Having a consistent approach to all our global travel endeavors also helps establish professional norms and pedagogical goals. We want these programs to be nothing short of transformational for the students who participate in them.