Westminster students enjoy global programs over the summer

       Eight miles a day. 23 days. From the Louvre in France to Stonehenge in Britain, students who participate in the Running Through History program spent a tiring but memorable experience traveling around Europe and learning about the cultures and traditions that flourished in ancient times.

       Summer programs have always been a integral part of the Westminster culture, and most students participate in at least one during their time at Westminster. Some of these are global, like Running Through History or the Argentina Exchange Program, and some take place right here in Georgia, like Governor’s Honors Program and various Discovery programs. Many of these are very popular with the students too, especially Running Through History. In fact, RTH was so popular that program coordinator Joe Tribble compiled a list of quotes in a book of students’ favorite memories on the trip.

       “[…] RTH was when education leapt off the pages of a book and broke through the 4 walls of a classroom for the first time,” said alumnus Geoffrey Sudderth, Class of ‘97.

The same is true for other summer programs at Westminster as well.

       “You get to do the thing that you love, but you’re also exposed to other things that you end up enjoying as well. […] Students come out saying it was the best experience of their life,” said Governor’s Honors program coordinator Reanna Ursin.

       An experience that takes anyone outside the four walls of a classroom and puts them in the heart of Argentina, Europe, or even Hawaii with their classmates is sure to be one of the best experiences of anyone’s life.

       “No student has ever come out of the program saying, ‘Oh, it wasn’t what I thought; I didn’t have that much fun,’” said Ursin.

       Everyone has their favorite parts of the trip, and the most common favorite, according to junior Albert Liang, is, “Meeting all the new people, being able to communicate with [the host family] in Spanish, being able to talk about things we have in common, all in a completely different country, is a very rewarding experience.”

        The same can be said for many global programs, and each program at Westminster is designed to teach students not only classroom knowledge, but life skills as well. Students leave these programs with a new sense of life, equipped with confidence, work ethic, and a thirst for more knowledge – all very important skills when they go to college two or three years later. The range of programs Westminster has to offer is very wide, and there is something to please almost everyone on campus, from science courses such as Marine Biology to exploring the importance of food in Atlanta as part of a Discovery program. Speaking of Discovery programs, Westminster’s Maine Discovery trip has been discontinued. In its place there are two new options. They are both based in Atlanta, and students are sure to have a great time exploring food culture in Atlanta, and connecting nature to art.

       “Although the Maine Discovery was a fun course, I think the two new ones will provide a greater diversity of topics for students to choose from when picking their Discovery,” said Discovery teacher David McMahan. “Being outdoors and camping might not be for everyone, and we tried to come up with options that everyone could enjoy whether or not they like being outdoors.”

        Students will really enjoy these new Discovery programs if they are not as interested in camping out for two or three days. Another summer program for rising juniors and seniors who may not necessarily want to travel abroad is the Governor’s Honors Program. Governor’s Honors is a selective program for students who are interested in exploring in-depth one specific topic, ranging from agriculture to Latin. Although this program is selective, five to six students from Westminster are chosen through a rigorous application process, and for four weeks, they can explore their passions and make new friends at Berry College in North Georgia.

        “It is an intensive four week summer program, that I, having not been in it myself, would describe it as a four week glimpse of the most amazing college experience you could ever imagine,” said Ursin.

        This summer, five lucky finalists got this experience: junior Claire Chen for music, junior Catherine Wang for visual arts, junior Payton Selby for social studies, and senior Emma Bussey for engineering.

        Summer programs are a wonderful way to bond with fellow classmates and maybe even complete strangers over a common interest.

        “You’re tired all the time, but it’s all part of the trip,” senior said Trey Parikh. “Everybody’s tired at some point, everybody smells bad at some point, but that’s what makes the trip. You’re exhausted and sick of seeing the same stuff, maybe, but it’s all worth it in the long run. You look back and you miss it.”

         If one is thinking of applying for one of these programs, all of the Westminster students who have been on one would definitely advise them to participate. All of these summer programs are sure to create memories that will last a lifetime and ultimately bring one closer to people they might not have known at all before the trip.

        “The coolest thing is watching something that I’ve become very familiar with- it’s like just when you know something, you don’t,” said Tribble.

        Summer programs will help every student find a new perspective on something that they might have learned in class and are now seeing in real life. They equip students to go out into the real world and be the leader of change, and that is Westminster’s mission for all of its students after all.