Traveling the World with Swampscott High School

For many years, Swampscott High School has planned various global expeditions through organizations aimed at helping communities in need of assistance. In the past, groups have traveled to Argentina, Madagascar, and Morocco with World Challenge, a group dedicated to volunteer work around the world.

“My favorite part was seeing a new culture and just being on a new and unfamiliar place. I enjoyed meeting new people and helping the community that we stayed with,” said Junior Gina Asipenko, who participated in the World Challenge trip to Nicaragua in 2012.

The Nicaragua trip was an eight day excursion where the students spent half of their time hiking volcanos and the second portion building and working at a local school. A unique part of World challenge is that each group is given a specific amount of money, and the plans for how to spend it are completely decided by the participants.

“To me the most important part is just experiencing a completely different culture,” said Dr. Christopher Ratley, who has been a chaperone for many school trips.

This summer Ms. Skelton and Mr. Tenney will be leading a World Challenge trip to Belize, where the group will spend time working in coral reefs and other parts of Belize while experiencing the unique culture and lifestyle of a different country.

Additionally, a second service trip to Nicaragua will take place this April for nine days, organized and led by Mrs. Gahm-Diaz and the organization El Porvenir. The trip will consist of between ten and fourteen students assisting local community members in water projects to improve sanitation.

Due to the long process of submitting and approving trip ideas, many possible ideas are not released until only a few months prior to the trip. “There are a number of trips planned but before we can we have to get it approved by the school committee,” said Mrs. Gahm-Diaz. “Some may focus on culture and history while others focus on cultural immersion and language.”

SHS also has many tour groups focused on aspects of countries that relate to currently studied languages. Last year, the French department traveled to Quebec, and the Chinese classes have the opportunity to travel to China in April.

These global experiences also qualify students for the Global Competency award, which has other requirements such as two years of a foreign language and community service. These trips serve to expose students to new experiences that are beneficial to learning and life skills.

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