Global Journeys: An Amazing Experience
“I can still remember sitting on a rock outside, just staring out into the magic happening above me. I remember that during one point of the night, Trilli, the dog that lived on the farm, climbed into my lap and closed her eyes. I can still remember her steady breathing, each breath sending ripples across her golden fur. It was just so beautiful. I never wanted it to stop,” said Renee Cai, seventh grade student who travelled on the Global Journeys Italy trip.
Ever since Avenues opened in 2012, Global Journeys has been an integral part of the Avenues experience. Going to explore a different country with your school is something special.
But what really makes Global Journeys so special? Is it the adventure of travel, or the experience of another culture? Students have been sent all over the world- China, Argentina, Belize, Taiwan, Italy, Japan. Studying and experiencing new cultures, eating new food and living with homestay families are some of the things students are able to experience with Global Journeys, and are just a few of the things that make .
Avenues was created and designed to teach their students how to be “at ease beyond their borders.” Global Journeys is a very clear representation of this goal.
Global Journeys is all about getting students to learn outside of the classroom. “Engaging students in programs internationally that allow for them to explore, specific global thematic issues, linked to the learning that you’re [the students] doing at school, to learning outcomes, as defined by elements, and also, giving opportunities for students at Avenues to engage with their peers, around the world, in an authentic, kind of… ethical standard of way, to stand in solidarity and address global issues.” said Kevin Murungi, Director of Global Journeys.
Being able to address issues beyond your own community is a great achievement, and to do so you must be able to engage with the people and cultures outside your own community.
Jordan Park, Global Journeys Coordinator, said, “Those elements really ring true in the opportunities we’re creating, opportunities for language practice, but also opportunities to engage with other people around the world and learn to thrive in situations where you’re maybe not perfectly comfortable.”
The experiences of students and faculty on Global Journeys trips, is something special. Each trip is organized around a location and theme. While the theme defines the structure of the trip, there is plenty of room for fun and adventure. These adventures can be anything from trying a new food, to staying with a family that doesn’t speak English.
“My most interesting and fun memory was when me and a couple of kids from my 4th grade class went to Taihu, a place in China, and all the kids at the boarding school we stayed at were so nice and thoughtful,” said Braeden Lenehan, seventh grade student.
Taking risks is a huge part of the Global Journeys experience, like pushing yourself to try new things that you may not be comfortable with. Emma Creeden gives us a perfect example from the Middle Grades 2018 Taiwan trip:
“You were up to mid calf or knee in mud in the rice patties, barefoot, and we were all squelching through the mud and finding the apple snails and taking them out. And even though students were uncomfortable with it at first and students said, ‘no, no no I’m not going in,’ and people fell in the mud, it didn’t matter because at the end of the day, everybody went in and everyone took that risk even students who were not initially okay with that. They too, embraced it.”
Aside from the fun and games, and adventure, the most important part of a global journeys trip is the confidence it instills in students to take risks, try new things, and to learn by immersing themselves in a different culture.
“But what we’re really trying to message to our students especially this year, is it’s not about just checking off the country on your list of places that you’ve traveled to. These experiences are really unique and they’re very different than how students would travel with their parents, for example, overseas. They offer experiences you wouldn’t get as a tourist in these destinations,” said Park.
Global Journeys really allows students to live the life of a person from the country they’re visiting. It is more than just seeing landmarks, it’s enjoying the small moments.
“I think my favorite [moment] in China was Alex, Ana, Zenchang and I saying ‘wu kuai qian’ in a cute voice, which is how we bargained,” said Calypso Maazel, seventh grade student.
Immersing yourself in a different culture is not always easy, but when you do, you always leave the country with a better understanding of the people and culture.
“Nobody has walked away not without a strong sense of respect for whatever country and cities we visited, without a renewed sense of curiosity and wonder I think is important. It really lights a spark under students to have a more open mind and a broader global mindset in terms of all elements, like how are you opening yourself up to others and experiences. So it definitely just shifts the way you engage with the world and ask questions,” said Creeden.
Global Journeys started as a very small program, but interest has grown, as well as support from Avenues. One of the ways Avenues has supported Global Journeys is by providing financial aid for students who otherwise would not be able to participate.
When asked to explain the financial aid program, Murungi said: “The policy is that each Upper Division student, can apply the same percentage that they receive for financial aid that applies to their tuition, to two Global Journeys in their Upper division career, and only one of those can be in the middle grades, so it’s, you know, maybe not as extensive, a policy as we would like, but we’re restricted by the reality of what the financial aid budget actually is at the school. So like I said, we’re trying to make sure that we are keeping the costs of these programs as low as we can.”
“My favorite part about going on a Global Journeys trip is discovering the different cultures in our world. The last minimester I went on the Taiwan Global Journeys trip and though it wasn't a language based trip, there was still plenty of people who spoke Chinese, and I went to improve my language skills,” said Braeden Lenehan.
Global Journeys is such a special experience. Pushing students to think and learn beyond how they usually do, putting them in an unfamiliar environment, and seeing how they do; it’s a once in a lifetime experience. This year, many exciting new programs have been launched for the spring of 2019, such as programs to South Africa, Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, as well as a new program to Avenues Sao Paulo. And as more and more students become involved in Global Journeys each year, the program expands, taking on new challenges, and providing new opportunities.