The Circle Voice

Groton Breaks the Bubble: Summer GEOs

Students+dance+during+a+trip+to+Tanzania+in+2016.
Students dance during a trip to Tanzania in 2016.

Students dance during a trip to Tanzania in 2016.

Macy Lipkin '18

Macy Lipkin '18

Students dance during a trip to Tanzania in 2016.

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At the turn of the twentieth century, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) concluded his studies on the Circle. In the decades that followed, FDR became one of America’s great presidents, often ranked in the same presidential assemblage as Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. What was it that placed FDR on the short list of America’s best leaders? Among his many attributes was a worldview grounded in the idea that freedom must be safeguarded around the globe. This first principle no doubt took root during FDR’s time on the Circle.

Groton’s continuous commitment to inspiring globalism is reflected in the school’s Global Education Opportunities (GEOs), which demonstrate that participation in global travel can intellectually reward and physically challenge students. Trips abroad, at their best, work to build a Groton student body filled with “global awareness and global experience,” as the GEO website states.

Over the course of the 2017-2018 school year, the GEO program sponsored trips engrained with service, language, and education, in India, Greece and China. This summer, students will also travel to Tanzania, Houston and Ireland on GEOs.

The Tanzania trip, which will run from June 13 to July 3, gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in Maasai culture. Groton has partnered with Orkeeswa Secondary School in northern Tanzania since 2010, and students will spend 21 days engaged in community life at the school, as well as participate in a home stay. The trip will be led by Director of College Counseling Megan Harlan and Director of Theater Laurie Sales. Laurie, who has chaperoned the same trip before, said of the experience, “the beauty of the Maasai culture, its appreciation of nature, of children and elders, its need for dance and joy and music—all of that has been deeply inspiring for me.”

The Houston GEO, which will run from June 10 to June 19, combines service with a strong STEM focus. While attending a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) program at the Johnson Space Center, Groton students will also engage in community service with the local Woodlands United Methodist youth group at food banks and local homeless shelters. The trip will be led by science teacher Sandra Kelly. “I feel like it is a great opportunity for me to experience a little bit of NASA and to be a part of… a government agency which I believe holds many secrets about space,” said Andrew Mazza ’20, who will be traveling with Dr . Kelly to Texas.

The Groton boys soccer program is running a trip to England and Ireland, from August 15 to 27. The team will train with some of the world’s best clubs and coaches. Besides that, the boys will able to see some of Ireland and England’s top sites. “While in London, players will visit Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and ride on the London Eye… Leaving London, the team then travels to Liverpool…, then on to finish out the tour in Dublin Ireland… Over the course of their time in Dublin the team will train alongside, and play against Bohemians FC, one of Ireland’s oldest and most storied professional clubs,” said math teacher Nishad Das, who is the director of Groton’s global education program.

GEOs offer co mpelling experiences beyond the classroom, increase exposure to new cultures, and widen the intellectual lens of participating students. Sophie Park ’19, who went on the language trips to Italy and Greece in 2016 and 2018, respectively, said, “Going on GEO trips has helped me visualize what I learn about in Latin and Greek. I got to visit the actual sites where favorite passages take place.”

Mr. Das furthered this notion: “Our goal for all GEOs is to create an environment for our students that moves them towards global competency… to [have] respect for other cultures, an understanding of cultural otherness or an empathy for other cultures,” said Mr. Das.

In the coming 2018-2019 academic year, GEOs will sponsor trips to China, France, Uganda, Peru and England. The program, which spans many continents, cultures, and languages, reflects Groton’s devotion to an education that is, as the GEO website states, “truly global in nature.”

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