More than 600 Pacific Ridge School students and staff spent the past few weeks experiencing academic, service and cultural experiences abroad.
During the school’s year-end global travel period, students in grades 7-10 travel to Big Bear (seventh grade), Washington D.C. (eighth grade), China (ninth grade) and the Northern Sierra (10th grade). Juniors and seniors have the option of choosing from numerous school-designed trips or designing their own trips or internships.
Throughout the school year, Pacific Ridge service learning group Global Vantage partners with students from the Kibera Girls Soccer Academy, in Nairobi, Kenya. Over the travel period, the students had the chance to connect with the students they’ve been working with, spending quality time learning about their lives and the power education has to empower students in challenging economic situations. Senior Megan Martindale proposed the trip to get to know her Kenyan peers better.
“The most impactful thing for me was creating connections with other people,” Martindale said.
Pacific Ridge juniors and seniors learned about the educational differences faced by the girls. The trip also focused on entrepreneurship, so the students visited Soko Jewelry to understand social enterprise. They learned about the changing economic needs of the developing country at a women’s coding institution. Martindale said she was struck by the amount of growth in the city.
“Kenya is setting itself up for massive success. There’s a huge amount of motivation and creativity that is coming from the people,” said Martindale.
Later, students spent time visiting a giraffe sanctuary, going on a safari in the Masai Mara Reserve and touring the United Nations office in Nairobi to study city planning.
While students visiting Kenya were witnessing economic growth, across the globe about 20 students were studying cultural history in Europe. Students visited Vienna and Prague to develop a deeper understanding of the Holocaust and to appreciate the European capitals. The trip was led by Pacific Ridge English teacher Jeremy Rosen, whose ancestors hail from the area. He was able to show students the apartment his family lived in before they escaped to Shanghai during German occupation.
“Visiting these two amazing European capitals gave our students the unique opportunity to learn about the complicated and difficult history of the last 100 years. Active Remembrance is the understanding that only by making the memories of the individual worlds of those who were lost in the Holocaust a part of who we are, can we ensure that they will not be forgotten,” Rosen said.
The group also toured the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp, which had a lasting effect.
“We finished the day with as many questions as we had answers,” said senior Aiden Borts.
In addition, the group toured the oldest synagogue in Vienna, strolled through the outdoor market, and even took in a singalong showing of the movie Bohemian Rhapsody.
Another group traveled to the Galapagos Islands to study environmental science and to do service work, such as removing invasive species such as blackberry bushes and guava trees. In San Cristobal, the group got their hands dirty planting native species. The students also had the chance to work with local disabled children, participating in horse therapy. When the group wasn’t working on service projects, they learned about the island’s rich history and the ample amount of biological diversity. After participating in a beach cleanup, students snorkeled and saw sea turtles, sharks and sea urchins.
“The amount of wildlife we saw there was amazing,” said Pacific Ridge senior Edward Le.
The global travel program at Pacific Ridge School is woven into the curriculum throughout the school year. Students studying Colonialism in South Africa visited the country to gain a comprehensive understanding of their studies. Other trips included studying entrepreneurship in Austin, Texas, backpacking through Iceland and practicing Spanish in Colombia. -- News release