go as planned.
For instance, this year, the school went to Argentina. While
they were down there, the country went on strike, and they got
an unexpected lesson in the turmoil created by popular unrest
against a central government.
“We were in downtown Buenos Aires, and when they go on
strike, everything shuts down; no cabs, no anything. We were
pretty much holed up in a hotel with protestors outside for 24
hours,” O’Hearn-Keck recalls. Students learned that things don’t
always turn out the way you expect, but you go with it and you
learn to live with it.
She also pointed to a recent trip to Poland as an example of the
intense emotional situations that can occur while traveling. “We
went to Auschwitz about three years ago, and it started to snow.
To go through that place in the snow is something that will touch
me for the rest of my life. You can’t believe how the people must
have lived and what they went through,” she recalls.
But there’s a happier, more playful side as well. O’Hearn-Keck
noted that on that same trip, those students went to Salzburg and
saw where “The Sound of Music” was filmed.
“It’s really been amazing. The kids get to see other cultures,
and especially in South America, they realize that clearly, people
often aren’t as fortunate as we are,” she adds. “It’s an incredible
TRAVELING TO SERVE
Some school travel abroad programs focus less on cultural study
and more on service learning. Students traveling to countries
like India, Haiti and Nicaragua help out local communities
through projects like building schools and homes, feeding and
caring for orphans, and protecting the region’s natural environment
Alex Norwood, Dean of Students at Alto International School
in Menlo Park, has been leading trips to Nicaragua for eighth- to
12th-graders for the past two years. The school was eager to offer
trips to less traveled, more exotic locations.
“WE DON’T JUS T
THROW THEM ON A
PLANE,” SHE S AYS.
“WE SEND THEM
WITH A L OT OF
A student from
plays with a
local kid in
FROM TOP: COURTESY OF ALTO INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (2)
60 South Bay Accent