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Spring Student Travel Programs Announced

Oct. 6, 2022 — For alum Layla Hay, who graduated in 2021, the experience of immersing herself as a high school student in cultures abroad was life changing. Hay visited Brazil in 2018 and Uruguay in 2017 through NMH’s travel program.

“I was more than just a tourist or an exchange student,” she said. “I had the privilege of experiencing the country in a holistic way. I met local students, activists, and artists and collaborated with nonprofits and grassroots organizations. That experience will always stay with me.” 

Arden Bacon' 21 and Layla Hay '21 in Brazil in 2018.

This school year, during spring break in March, students will have the chance to travel to either Brazil or Costa Rica through the school’s travel program

In the Costa Rica Wildlife and Environmental Conservation program, which runs March 4 to 12, students will work on environmental conservation through data collection and species monitoring. They’ll also kayak, hike, and explore cultural sites. This trip is open to students in all grades.

The Brazil Sophomore Enrichment Program is based on the Humanities II: World History and World Religions course. During the program, which will run from March 3 to 16, students will study the complex forces of race, class, natural resource management, and urbanization in the country. 

“These trips are eye-opening, hands-on, experiential learning,” said Tim Relyea, chair of the history and social science department. “Students encounter perspectives that they could otherwise only read about.”

Hay recalled visiting a youth center in a Rio de Janeiro “favela,” one of the impoverished, historically underserved neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city. 

“By visiting a favela and playing with the children who lived there, we were forced to confront our preconceived notions of these neighborhoods,” Hay said. “We also spent a great deal of time speaking with people who live and work in favelas, understanding why and how these communities formed. 

“At the same time, as American students from an elite boarding school, we were forced to confront our own privileges as visitors,” she continued. “As 15- and 16-year-olds, we were already having uncomfortable conversations about inequality and justice. We were challenging ideas of privilege and service [and] what it means to act with humanity.”

Jennifer Keator, a religious studies and philosophy teacher, noted that service is embedded into students’ travel experiences. 

“The service has always been participating with local groups and the work that they are already doing — sports exchanges, language exchanges, cultural exchanges, community service exchanges,” she said. “I think the idea of exchange is super important because we have never ‘served’ on our own. It is a shared experience.”

NMH students and teachers traveled to Brazil in 2018.

Cultural exchanges, academic opportunities, and service learning are integral to the NMH travel program and in keeping with the school’s mission and values of inclusivity, learning for life, and service, said Andrea Sell, assistant dean of faculty.

“We are avoiding tourism-heavy trips where students are passive observers,” she said. “We want students and adult chaperones engaging in meaningful ways.”

Sell added that the school is working to ensure that these programs are accessible to students.

“We are working to increase financial aid so that money is not a barrier to participation in these programs,” she said. “It is our goal that all students have the opportunity to participate in a meaningful travel experience during their time at NMH.”

The travel program application process is now open. Families and students can learn more at an informational session during Family Days on Friday, Oct. 14, from 4:15 to 5 pm in the Rhodes Room in Beveridge Hall. Applications are due Oct. 21. Contact travel@nmhschool.org with questions. 

Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer) in Rio de Janeiro

 

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