Second semester kicks off tomorrow, and with it, thoughts of travel and adventure for the 17 students who will be participating in Brooks' exchange programs this spring.
"It's time for me to be a citizen of the world!" said Jack O'Connell '19, who will head to Scotland at the end of next month. "I live a pretty sheltered life at Brooks and at home. During my time at Brooks I've met people who see the world differently. I want to challenge and develop my own perspective. Being a world traveler is something has been on my radar for a while now, and this is a great opportunity to spread my wings."
As part of his exchange at Colegio Trener in Lima, Peru last year, Lawilliam Stevens '19 traveled to Cusco and Arequipa for some sightseeing, including Machu Picchu.
Founded in 1986, Brooks' exchange program sends students from Brooks to participate in the communities at our partner schools in Botswana, Hungary, Morocco, Peru, Scotland and Spain, while students from those schools come to Brooks for the same reason.
For more information about Brooks School's Exchange programs click here.
Nearly all Brooksians are scheduled to depart February 27 and be abroad four-to-five weeks during March break (Students journeying to Peru -- Gabriel Barreto-D'Silva '20, Vicky Haghighi '19 and Trammie Tran '19 -- leave to study at Colegio Trener in Lima after their final exams in June and return in mid-July). And nearly all have different reasons that they want to study abroad, as well as varying goals for their time in each country.
"One thing I hope to experience is time with children in local orphanages," said Andrew Stevens '18 of his trip to the Maru-a-Pula boarding and day school in Gaborone. "Community service at Maru-a-Pula is a big part of the school mission. I hope to interact with these kids, kick a soccer ball with them, and bring joy to their faces."
Taylor Berberian '19, meanwhile is excited about stepping into a new culture – and way of attending school. "I hope to experience what it is like living in a dorm, since I'm a day student here at Brooks," she said. "I also want to see and experience the nature and different environment in Botswana." Neither student is anxious about traveling to the farthest flung exchange destination -- 7,691 miles from campus in North Andover. "I'm not nervous at all," swore Berberian. "Just excited." Ditto Stevens: "I am more excited about the idea that I will be somewhere completely new."
Caroline O'Shea '17 and Ethan Gabert-Doyon '17 explored Botswana during exchange in 2017.
Beijing native Tianshu Wang '19 "can't wait to eat authentic Hungarian food such as Chicken Paprikash and Goulash Stew," he said. "Since coming to Brooks is studying abroad to me, I believe studying at [Deák Ferenc, the public high school in Szeged] will be a smooth and exciting experience." The fifth former wanted to join the exchange program to expand his "worldview, experience other cultures, and make friends around the globe," he added. "The program opens up new vistas for us allowing us to think bigger, treat the whole world as a family."
Marty Graham '19 anticipates he'll have to build in some adjustment time to his exchange, living with a host family and studying at the day school, but that doesn't put him off. "I want to shove myself outside my comfort zone and this is as far as I can go," he said. Anything he's nervous about in particular? "Mostly everything," he admitted. "Remembering names is hard enough for me, so remembering names that are in a different language might prove tricky. Once I have everything prepared and ready the trip should go fine. Getting everything packed and organized will probably be harder than the actual traveling bit."
For her part, Emily Choe '19, who hails from Seoul, wants "to learn and experience cultures that are drastically different from my own and the schools I've been to," she said. "I want to learn about the different education programs and experience it because I know how different they can be. I would like to go to different art and historical museums there because I have read about famous and interesting museums in Hungary."
Andrew Iferenta '19 is looking forward to enrolling in the American School of Tangier and exploring Morocco because he said, "I love traveling and learning about new cultures. I also want to challenge myself to understand people who are from a different background and way of life."
Formmate Lami Zhang '19 joined the exchange program with similar hopes. "It is a great opportunity to immerse myself in a completely different culture and discover a new part of myself. I want to learn about Moroccan culture and Arabic, too. And I'm super excited to try Moroccan food!"
"I want to find something new to experience and become more outgoing," said Xiu Stuart '19 of studying on the 300-acre Glenalmond College in Perth, in the Scottish Highlands.
Darya Lee '19, on the other hand, said she wanted to go to Scotland because of a relationship she's already forged: "Ever since last spring, when I had the opportunity to host a Scottish exchange student and we shared a room together, I have wanted to experience her county and see how different the boarding school experience is there in comparison to the United States."
Getting up close and personal is a goal of Jack O'Connell as well. "I don't just want a tourist view of the experience," he said. "I want the true perspective of people who live in the country everyday. I want to see the real culture of my host school and its country."
Jason Gold '18 traveled with his host family throughout Seville, Spain last year.
Going on exchange in high school is something that Charlotte Marks '19 has hoped to do even before she stepped foot on campus. "Not many people can say that they went on exchange during high school," she said. "The exchange program at Brooks is one of the things that really caught my attention when I was applying to secondary schools." Now that she's about to embark on living with a Spanish host family and attending classes at the public Instituto Murillo, in Seville she added, "I am so excited to put my Spanish skills to the test and finally be immersed in the culture that I have been learning about for so long!"
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