Greece to the Ganges: 2018 Global Education Trips

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This year, the Global Education program will run trips to India, Greece, China, and Tanzania. The majority of travel opportunities will happen this spring break, with Tanzania being the only summer trip.


From March 4 to March 19, faculty members Tom Lamont and Monika Andersson will lead a trip to India. The program will provide an opportunity for much sightseeing, with emphasis on historical events in India, and will include extended stays at the Doon School and Welham Girls School, with both of which Groton has partnerships. The trip will also focus heavily on the mindfulness practices of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions in the region.


This year’s trip includes a stay in Varanasi, the religious capital of India, which is located on the Ganges River. As Mr. Lamont says, “This GEO trip will focus mainly on India’s diverse religious traditions. The itinerary has been developed by Shantum Seth, an expert on religion in India, and he will be our guide as we visit many temples and meet with various religious leaders and other knowledgeable individuals.” Hopefully, say the leaders, this trip will introduce students to much that is new to them. Ms. Andersson says, “If you are the kind of person who values experience, who wants to know, to see, to learn, to understand, to listen, and marvel at all the ways in which food can taste great, and music and art and culture can make its own beautiful sense within each country, then, traveling to original cultures is the thing you need to do.”


This is the first year that the school will run a Greece trip, inspired by the successful 2016 Rome trip. Groton will be running the trip from March 4th to March 16th, led by faculty members Amy Martin-Nelson, David Nelson, and Scott Giampetruzzi. Similar to the Rome trip, the Greece trip is facilitated by the Paideia Institute, which focuses on education as well as play during their expeditions. While the trip will emphasize history, archaeology, and literature of Ancient Greece, Ms. Martin-Nelson says, “Students will understand the bigger geo-political issues of Modern Europe—the EU, the euro, and the refugee crisis, etc.”  


The beauty of traveling through Paideia is that students will get to travel throughout the entirety Greece before the thirteen days are up. The Greece trip is different from other Global Education trips in that it is based more on sight-seeing than on total cultural and linguistic immersion. Ms. Martin-Nelson says that students will “feel and live the history and culture of a place in a very different way than that of a homestay.” The hope, Ms. Martin-Nelson says, is that “students come away with a deep connection to Greece, both ancient and modern.” What better way to spend your spring break than exploring the birthplace of the West?  


Another installment of the Global Education trip lineup this spring break is the jazz band’s tour of China, led by faculty members Mary Ann Lanier, Kenji Kikuchi, and Shannon Jin. The jazz band will tour Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Hong Kong, playing music and experiencing Chinese culture along the way. The band will play a total of six performances, visiting five high schools and colleges along the way. Although the trip primarily focuses on music, Ms. Lanier says, “I believe that music is culture so for me music education and culture go hand in hand.”

Mr. Kikuchi, director of the jazz band, is excited to see how these Chinese peers and audiences in general will react to jazz music. He says, “It’s a great opportunity to do a lot of concerts for people not from the United States so they have a different opinion about jazz.”

The only global education trip running this summer is Tanzania, which will take place from June 13 to July 7. The Tanzania trip has been one of the most popular Global Education Opportunities that Groton has offered over the years. The trip is comprised of not only work and play at the Orkeeswa School, a school Groton has maintained a strong connection with for years, but also a homestay in a local boma, or village. Through this trip, students get a first-hand glance at Maasai culture and hone their leadership skills through workshops focused on personal reflection.  Megan Harlan, who will co-lead the trip, says, “My favorite thing about this trip is that Groton students get to interact with the Tanzania students on such a personal level, and that it’s not a tourist trip by any means. They get to meet kids their age, and that’s so powerful.”