The Westminster Bi-Line

The student news site of The Westminster Schools

Breaking News

The Westminster Bi-Line

The Westminster Bi-Line

Westminster students reflect on global summer programs

Westminster students at Belize Zoo while traveling for the Belize Summer Global Program. Credit: Claudia Stillwagon.

Westminster’s global programs, as one of the school’s largest selling points to potential students, are said to both broaden global knowledge and offer unique hands-on experiences. In the summer, the four programs offered by Westminster travel to Argentina, Spain, France, and Iceland. These global experiences allow students to gain confidence, practice a foreign language, and make long-lasting connections with their peers.

The Argentina program is designed for students to practice their communication in the Spanish language as well as learn about Argentine culture and traditions. During this immersion summer program, faculty and students visited Buenos Aires, touring historic sites, exploring an old estancia, and learning about fish factories. For two weeks, students lived with host families to learn about day-to-day Argentine life from the source: the families themselves.

“The Argentina trip certainly helps the students become more globally aware,” said trip coordinator and faculty advisor Mario Chard. “The kids get to meet Argentine people, stay in their homes, and feel like they have a second family.”

This opportunity helps Westminster students immerse themselves in a culture of their choice and dive into Argentine traditions, food, and way of life.

“You get to go to a country you might have never seen before,” said junior John Overend, who attended the Argentina trip last summer. “I personally would never have had another opportunity to visit South America or to see Argentina.”

The Camino de Santiago program in Spain, another program offered by Westminster, consists of a five-and-a-half-day walk through an internationally renowned pilgrimage site. The camino is an extensive network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across countries in Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela in the northwest region of Spain. Students get the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, specifically people who have been hiking these trials for months at a time.

“The whole trip is memorable,” said faculty advisor Daniel Searl. “Walking from Sarria to Santiago over five and a half days is the highlight and everything that goes on along the way.”

“It’s a chance to challenge yourself both mentally and physically,” said senior Kate Harley. “You’re walking a long way, every single day, and you can feel tired or have blisters. In the end, it’s really about pushing yourself further than you think you can go.”

From stopping on the road and eating fresh octopus to meeting people and learning about their personal stories, there is much to see and do on the camino. Harley even went as far as to say that a part of her wants to go back and walk for longer than the elected five and a half days.

“This trip allows you not only to spend time with yourself and work on yourself but also create connections with other people, all while truly living life to the fullest,” said Harley.

Elsewhere in Europe, other Westminster students experienced summer life in France. French students at Westminster made the town of Strasbourg their home base as they enrolled in one of France’s most prestigious schools and learned about the culture as they took excursions throughout the Alsace region and Germany to visit historic sites.

“This trip helps with confidence in meeting new people,” said junior Mary Helen Munger. “It definitely teaches you how to advocate for yourself while traveling without your parents.”

Students improved their French skills tremendously while exploring the non-touristic gems that the country has to offer. Munger specifically described her host family experience as “eye-opening.”

Students exchange social media handles as well as numbers and make sure to keep in touch with their host families well after leaving, making these memories formative experiences.

In Iceland, Upper School students focused on sustainability. The geographical climate zone of Iceland is extremely unique and provides for a special student experience. The students learned about Icelandic history, ecosystem, and power.

“If you went to Iceland on your own, you would probably stay very close to the touristy parts of the country. We go beyond that. We see the other side of Iceland that many don’t see,” said faculty advisor Henrik Malmberg.

“There’s nothing I would change. I loved it all,” said sophomore Sadie Burdell, a student who participated in the trip. “The people who went were great, and I made a lot of new connections with students who went on the trip and with nature itself.”

A common thread of advice from the students who participated in these travel programs: just do it.

“You just have to go for it. Even if you have apprehensions about the trip, you don’t know if it’s for you, just try it. Trust yourself and take the risk and it will pay off,” said Harley.

“Global travel is hard because it’s new and it’s scary on top of all the excitement,” said Chard. “If you take a moment to take a breath and look, you learn the doubleness of things. You learn to look out and see what the world is trying to tell you.”

Edited by Sophia Cunningham

More to Discover