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Regional Travel with Global Significance Enriches Student Experiences

Providence Day School students enjoyed regional travel with global significance to Alaska, Arizona, California, and Puerto Rico in the summer of 2022. Dedicated faculty and staff members partnered with local experts to create these unique experiences. By the end of each trip, participants had explored through hands-on experience, engaged in a reflective learning process to extract lessons learned, and grew personally to become more confident and accountable global citizens.

Upper School students in Alaska: Off the Map hiked, camped, and explored the majestic scenery while forming new friendships. “It is so fun to meet new people,” said Sanaya Lee ‘25. “Before I went to Alaska, I had never done anything remotely outdoorsy, so it was a great opportunity for me to get out of my shell and try something new.”

Libby Barron ‘26 advises students considering this type of trip to do it. “Not only will you see a beautiful part of the world, but you will also talk to people you normally wouldn’t. I really recommend it because it gets you out of your comfort zone and opens you up to new things.” Others, like Emerson Smith ‘24, learned the joy of spending time in the great outdoors. “Something that I learned about myself during my time in Alaska is that I love to hike. Hiking during the whole trip, along with camping, is always something that I had really wanted to do.”

Teacher Jen Moser served as a trip leader and most enjoyed watching students grow and become empowered with their new skills. “I think there were two big takeaways for students on this trip. The first was that they are capable of doing much more than they might think,” she reflects on the group’s strenuous first hike. “The second major takeaway is that a positive attitude really does make a huge difference in the outcome of the situation when things do not go as planned. They found a way to smile, laugh, and embrace the conditions at times which allowed them to enjoy the experience even more.”

While exploring a completely different climate and scenery, Middle School students in Arizona: Canyons, Climate, & Conservation learned about the importance of preservation, sustainability, and water in the western United States while exploring landmarks like the Grand Canyon in a unique and special way. 

“My favorite experience during the trip was seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time,” said Mali Pillai ‘27. “Everyone was lined up with their mask over their eyes and walked down to the platform. Once everyone was set and lined up, one of the leaders told us to pull our masks down and you could hear everyone say ‘ah’ because they were so surprised. It was very beautiful and looked extremely different from the pictures online.” 

Middle School librarian Corley May served as an Arizona trip leader and was grateful to spend time building relationships with students. “I think the students on the Arizona trip came away with a sense of wonder for the stunning landscapes we were able to experience firsthand,” she said. “I think we also all came away from our Grand Canyon hike with a sense of accomplishment. We can do hard things together!”

California: Asian Culture & Natural Wonders offered another incredible travel experience for Middle School students to participate in team-building activities while learning about Asian culture and exploring the Redwoods. Participants enjoyed memorable moments such as meals together where they tried new foods, spending an evening together at the pool, and seeing new sights. “My favorite experience was probably our time at the Golden Gate Bridge,” said Campbell Stuart ‘27. “We walked the bridge and looked out to the surreal view of the ocean and Alcatraz.

“Some of the things I was scared of weren’t all that scary,” said Waverley Heffernan ‘28. “It kind of made me realize that sometimes people can make up fears in their head but once you experience them it changes your perspective.” Davis Hubbard ‘27 encourages students to try something new. “If you are out of your comfort zone you would be surprised at the things you learn that you wouldn't have if you had not been adventurous.” 

The trip took on a special significance for trip leader and teacher Michelle Garrity ‘04. “For me, as an Asian American, Angel Island and taking the tour of Immigration Station was very eye-opening. I learned so much about the journey many Asians took to immigrate over to America and the hardships they faced throughout it.”

Upper School students also had an opportunity to participate in a hands-on trip to Puerto Rico: Community, Culture, & Comida. In addition to exploring some of the natural wonders of Puerto Rico, students learned about the effect of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico and contributed to efforts to regrow long-term capacity for food production, distribution, and sales on a local farm. 

“A few of the most profound takeaways for students on the Puerto Rico trip were lessons on the importance of patience, intentionality, flexibility, living in the moment, and leading with their values as they navigate the world,” said trip leader Jana Dorsey, Associate Director of Outreach for the Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at PD.

“One of the most significant moments of the trip for me was traveling to Loíza to visit the home and studio of Samuel Lind, a famous Puerto Rican artist,” Dorsey said. “African culture is threaded throughout Puerto Rican heritage and Loíza is known as one of the epicenters of these traditions and roots in terms of festivals and the arts. In 2011, I traveled to Loíza and Samuel Lind's studio with the Black Cultural Center of Purdue, my alma mater. For me, it was a powerful and indescribable feeling to return there 10+ years later as an educator alongside Providence Day students.” 

Reed Nobili ‘23 most enjoyed working on the farm with Puerto Rican locals. And while met with some travel challenges, “I learned that I can navigate airports better than I thought I could,” he said. “Understand that many things can go wrong in a trip, but never stop trying to make your own fun.”