Traveling Abroad Returns to Mariemont

BY ASHLEY GRIMMER

For years absent at MHS, opportunities to travel abroad have made a resurgence over the past three years and now provide students travel opportunities to over ten different countries.  

Math teacher, Mrs. Bell, was an integral part of the return of the travel program.  She has now led three trips, partnered with EF Tours, to Europe for the Global Leadership Summits which is an abroad conference promoting students to take a global initiative.

“Because the first trip in 2015 was so successful, it allowed the school district to take it more seriously and invest their time in sustaining the program,” says Mrs. Bell recalling her trip with students to Switzerland in 2015.  

For Mrs. Bell, the MHS travel program came at a time in her life when she was in need of something positive.  “I have always really enjoyed learning.  Being able to learn about and go places that I never dreamt I would be able to see or do has been so uplifting,” says Bell.

Students experience cultural immersion at a local market in Athens, Greece during the 2017 Summit trip. (PHOTO BY COX)

For students, the experience was rewarding as well.  Junior Jacob Cox traveled to Greece and Italy during summer 2017 for the Global Leadership Summit in Milan and through it, he found a truly life-changing experience.

“It allowed me to experience other cultures and understand how other people in different countries live their lives,” says Cox.  “I also enjoyed being able to travel with a group of my friends which made the experience very special.”

Amelia Popowics, a Junior who traveled to Italy with the Latin class during spring break of 2017, found it interesting to travel because it put the whole world in perspective.

“Traveling makes you more cognizant of issues in other countries,”  says Popowics. “Italy still has conflict between the north and south, and they differ a lot in economic structures which was neat to see. It gave us a real-world data point.”

In addition to traveling to historical landmarks and experiencing cultural immersion past the doors of Mariemont, Mr. Vanags leads a service learning trip to a third world country each year in collaboration with the school’s club, Service Projects Abroad.

According to Vanags, what he loves most is that the trips have taken him to uncommon destinations, places he wouldn’t have considered traveling to without the opportunities presented by the school.  “On these trips, you have to be willing to lean into your discomfort and leave the typical world behind.  You have to have a sense of adventure and a willingness to engage with others.”

Students were able to marvel at the sight of the Vulcan Sumaco overlooking the Rio Napa on the 2017 service trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos. (PHOTO BY WESTON)

Due to the astounding feedback and positive reactions to the trips, two more international trips will be departing summer 2018.  Mrs. Bell will lead a Global Leadership Summit trip to Germany in July and Mr. Vanags will be leading a group of rising seniors to Peru in June to participate in a sustainability service project on the shores of Lake Titicaca.  

“I think that it is important to be pushed out of your comfort zone and to put yourself out there,” says Bell.  “It makes you more open to different cultures and  experiences, as well as enables you to recognize that the entire world has similarities and differences that should be celebrated.”

 

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