by Kiara Wessling, Director of Global Learning
Episcopal has long offered multiple opportunities to travel abroad and domestically through its Institute of Global Learning. Each program is designed to offer students an exceptional experience that fully immerses them in the culture, food, and spirit of the destination. Some programs are purely culture or language-based, others revolve around a single topic and strive to have students gain skills and produce work, and others are organized around spiritual development and service. All of ESJ’s Institute of Global Learning programs provide life-changing experiences for the students that participate in them each year.
Here are five reasons your student would benefit from an Episcopal global program this summer:
Find new favorites: Do they like escargot? Do they love teaching kids? Have they ever felt a feeling of awe in a place they've never seen before? Our hope is that by participating in one of Episcopal's global programs, students will have new opportunities and find some of their new favorite things, whether that be a food dish, an activity, or a new town or city. ESJ Global Programs enable students to experience new places and to genuinely feel a part of something by immersion. This could be by immersing them in food, culture, and language. Trying an entirely new food in the country that it is known for, seeing the Great Wall of China for the first time, or feeling God’s presence in something initially thought to be routine -- like yard work or playing with children in a developing nation -- are all moments that participating in an ESJ global experience can provide!
Immersion in experiences tailored to for students: Each trip that ESJ takes has an emphasis on experiencing a new culture, language, project, or place -- in some cases, the emphasis is on all four! All ESJ programs are organized with Episcopal students specifically in mind. Most travel companies that ESJ uses have an extensive history creating and running trips for high school, middle school, and college students. Building upon these itineraries, each of the teachers that lead ESJ trips carefully augment and purposefully choose the best activities for our particular focus and our students.
Make new friends: Of course, students will make friends with new people that they meet from foreign countries or different states! This is a given when anyone thinks about traveling. However, one major reason to travel with Episcopal is the amount of time students will spend with classmates and instructors. Students on all of Episcopal’s trips form lasting friendships with students in other grades and other friend groups. Group bonding and relying upon one another starts at pre-travel meetings and continues throughout the duration of the trip. Traveling together and sharing new experiences in countries and cities that are new to everyone contributes to a foundation to be built upon once everyone returns to school.
Exercise your flexibility and resilience: Anyone who has traveled knows that sometimes things do not go according to plan. While we organize, plan, and make back-up plans, to be sure everything goes well, sometimes minor things happen -- it rains, a museum or site is closed, a train gets delayed, the list goes on and on. Facing new challenges increases any person’s flexibility and resilience, students included. These hiccups can create unforgettable memories, and result in an unscheduled sightseeing stop, finding a new favorite place to eat, or simply unplanned bonding time with peers. Hopefully, as students return to Episcopal and their daily lives, they remember these moments and how good things came from times when they were flexible and resilient when faced with bumps in the road or challenges that were unplanned.
Grow: Going to a new place and stepping outside of their comfort zone can be intimidating- even scary! We hope that by traveling with ESJ’s Global Programs students find a beautiful blend of challenge and comfort. Every new experience, both the ones that have been carefully organized and the ones we stumble upon while traveling, can help us grow and challenge our opinions, our perceptions, and our beliefs of the world around us. There is so much to this wonderful world we live in. Going away and coming back changes each person in unique ways. Ultimately, we hope that some of the major unifying factors of our programs is that we all gain new experiences, learn from our travels, apply them to our lives, and share our experiences with others.
Interested? Check out the five programs being offered in the summer of 2020! We hope your student will join us for one of these once in a lifetime opportunities!